BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A parked car rigged with explosives blew up outside a Baghdad restaurant Wednesday evening, an Iraqi government official said, killing at least 37 people and wounding 74 in the worst attack in nearly a month.
The blast took place about 7:30 p.m. in Shula, a blue-collar, predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood, an Interior Ministry official told CNN. At least two other shops were damaged in the neighborhood, where streets typically are crowded in the early evening.
Women and children were among the dead and wounded, the official said. Iraqi police were checking the area for any other bombs late Wednesday.
The bombing is the latest in a series of attacks that are stoking fears of renewed sectarian warfare as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from Iraqi cities. It comes two weeks after another set of bombings in the capital killed at least 17 people and wounded dozens and follows the April 29 attacks that killed 48 people and wounded more than 80 in various Baghdad neighborhoods.
An increase in bombings made April the deadliest month of 2009 so far for Iraqi civilians, with 290 reported killed. Most of the violence has targeted Iraq's Shiite majority. U.S. commanders blame Sunni jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq, whom they say have been trying to rekindle the sectarian warfare that ravaged Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.