Bombs in Iraqi southern city of Basra kill 19

Most of the victims of the attacks were police and soldiers

At least 19 people have been killed in a series of bomb blasts in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, police and medical sources say.

At least 65 people were wounded in three explosions at a market in the centre of the port city.

Two of the blasts - involving a roadside bomb and a motorcycle - happened simultaneously, police said.

The third explosion then killed police and army officers who had gathered at the scene, reports say.

The last bomb caused most of the injuries, officials said.

Deadliest day

Noufal Hassan, who owns a shop near the site of the explosions, said the market was a scene of carnage.

"I immediately went out of my shop and saw the blood. The nearest shops were shattered and the cars were burned," he said.

Basra security official Ali al-Maliki said most of the victims were police and soldiers, including several senior officers.

It is not known who carried out the attacks.

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The attack marked the deadliest day in Basra since 2 November, when 11 people were killed in separate incidents.

Basra is the largest city in the mainly Shia south of Iraq and is at the heart of the country's oil industry. It is hosting a four-day conference for international oil executives and industry officials starting on Friday.

Violence has declined in Iraq since a peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks on civilians remain common.

The attacks have raised concerns that violence might increase once the US military departs from Iraq.

All remaining US troops are due to leave by the end of this year after Washington and the Iraqi authorities failed to agree on plans to keep a US military training mission in Iraq after that deadline.

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