Suspected car bomb kills at least five in Baghdad
A suspected car bomb exploded outside the Education Ministry in central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least five people, two of them women.
There was no word on the motive for the attack, which occurred on U.S. presidential election day. Iraq has been a divisive campaign issue.
The blast in the Iraqi capital's mainly Sunni Muslim Adhamiya district badly damaged the ministry building and destroyed half a dozen vehicles. Smoke poured from the building as firemen fought a blaze set off by the blast.
The body of an elderly man lay on the ground on fire after the explosion, which scattered body parts across the street.
The bomb exploded in a sidestreet near a ministry building wall at about 9:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) gouging a big crater in the tarmac. Water from burst pipes flooded the street.
An Education Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said about 20 people had been killed or wounded.
Among those injured was Abbas Kadhim, 32, who was hit in the stomach by fragments of cement as he sat in his car.
He wept after being treated at the nearby No'man hospital. "I'm not crying because I'm wounded but because of my brother. I was with him and I don't know what happened to him," he said.
Parents of children at a nearby girls' school raced to the scene in panic searching for their daughters. There were no reported casualties at the school.
U.S. troops and Iraqi National Guards arrived later as American helicopters clattered overhead.
Neighbours said they had urged the ministry's security officials in the past to block off the sidestreet where the bomb went off. "They didn't listen to us," said one man.
Ali Hussein, a doctor at the No'man hospital, said four bodies, one of them a woman, and seven or eight wounded people, including a child, had been brought there.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest of many bombings to bring carnage to the heart of Baghdad since last year's U.S.-led invasion.