BAGHDAD: Car bombs killed at least 112 people in Baghdad yesterday, police said, leaving pools of blood, charred buses and scattered body parts in a brutal reminder of the threat from Iraq's stubborn insurgency.
The blasts, most of them detonated by suicide bombers, ripped through crowded areas close to government buildings, which should have been under tight security after previous devastating attacks in the capital in recent months.
The bombings undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's claims to have brought security to the country before a national election scheduled for March 6, and could rattle foreign oil chiefs due in Iraq this weekend for a major contract auction.
"We had entered a shop seconds before the blast, the ceiling caved in on us, and we lost consciousness. Then I heard screams and sirens all around," said Mohammed Abdul Ridha, one of the 425 wounded in the series of at least four blasts.
Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi gave a lower death toll of 63. It was not possible to explain the discrepancy with the numbers provided by police sources. The Health Ministry said it was difficult to determine the exact number because many bodies had been blown to pieces.
Smoke billowed and sirens wailed as emergency workers removed the dead in black body bags. Pools of blood had formed next to burnt-out minibuses, police vehicles and dozens of crumpled cars at one bomb site, the blast leaving a huge crater.
"What these gangs are doing are criminal acts which express their bankruptcy and disappointment," Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi saidt.
Analysts said the attacks, similar to spectacular bombings in the Iraqi capital in October and August, were meant to shake faith in Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government.
The earlier blasts were blamed on Sunni Islamist insurgents and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party.
"It's the same style and the same vital targets. There is one political motive - to show that the government has failed to provide security," said analyst Hazim al-Nuaimi.
In one attack, a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle in the car park of a courthouse, after getting through a checkpoint, police said.
Another blast, this time a parked car bomb and not a suicide bomber, struck a temporary building used by the Finance Ministry after its main premises were devastated in the August bombing.
Smoke rises from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad, December 8, 2009. Car bombs killed at least 112 people in the heart of the Iraqi capital yesterday. Reuters
(China Daily 12/09/2009 page1)