A truck bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded more than on Thursday at a livestock market near the Iraqi city of Hilla, police and medical officials said.
The blast in the town of Al-Medhatiaya was the worst single attack in the country since a suicide bomber killed 35 Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad last month.
Thursday's bomb went off on a busy main road running past the market southeast of Hilla, which lies more than 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Baghdad, local police officer Khadim al-Shammari said.
Casualty reports by the US military and the Iraqi ministry of defence put death toll at 10 and more than 50 wounded.
However, a doctor at the Babylon health office in Hilla, the capital of Babil province, put the toll at nine. Casualty discrepancies immediately following bombings in Iraq are common.
"Ten Iraqi civilians were killed and 56 were injured when a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) exploded east of Hilla at approximately 8:25 am," said a US army spokesman.
Thursday's bombing followed a series of attacks on Iraqi police, soldiers and a pro-US militia leader on Wednesday that left at least 11 people dead and 33 wounded throughout the country.
Since late 2007, security has improved dramatically in Iraq and while attacks remain common in Baghdad and in provinces such as Diyala and Nineveh, violence is not usual in the ethnically mixed province of Babil in central Iraq.
However a total of 258 Iraqis were killed in violence in February, a sharp rise from the previous month that saw the lowest casualty figures since the March 2003 US-led invasion, according to government statistics.
But the 35 percent increase from January's total of 191 was mainly attributable to the more than 50 people who died in a spate of attacks during the Shiite religious commemorations for Arbaeen last month.
Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents commonly target Iraq's crowded religious festivals and pilgrimages.
Bustling markets are another favourite of rebels that continue to operate in the country despite persistent Iraqi and US forces' efforts to neutralise them.
In 2008, 6,772 Iraqis were killed in violence. But in January 2007 alone 1,992 civilians died.