At least 15 people died Saturday and another 22 were wounded when a car bomb exploded at a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the city of Samarra, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Baghdad, a police official told Efe.

The explosion in downtown Samarra also caused destruction to a number of stores and damaged vehicles parked near the scene of the attack. The area was cordoned off by police out of fear that further attacks might be launched.

Terrorism and sectarian violence have increased in Iraq in recent months with frequent attacks on security forces and the Shi'ite community.

Though the increase in attacks has been notable since early this year, their numbers shot up even more after the escape of 500 suspected members of al-Qaeda from the Abu Ghraib and Al Tayi prisons last July. EFE