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Car bomb kills seven in central Baghdad
Updated: 2004-05-06 15:16

A suicide car bomb exploded Thursday at a checkpoint to the zone that houses U.S administrative offices in central Baghdad, killing six Iraqi civilians and one U.S. soldier, and injuring 25 people, the U.S. military said.

Vehicles burn after a suicide car bomb exploded near the main complex housing the U.S. administrative offices in central Baghdad, Iraq in this image from television Thursday May 6, 2004. [AP]
The injured included two U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi policemen, the U.S. military said.

The bomb, hidden inside an orange-and-white Baghdad taxi, exploded outside of a three-foot-high concrete blast wall. The wall shields cars driving up to a checkpoint just before a bridge spanning the Tigris River that leads into the so-called Green Zone, a sprawling area that houses the U.S.-led coalition and is walled off from the rest of Baghdad.

"At 7:26 a.m., what appeared to be a suicide bomber in a car pulled up to the checkpoint, and then three cars back from the checkpoint, detonated his bomb," said Col. John Murray of the U.S. Army's Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division.

About 10 Iraqi cars were lined up inside of the blast barriers when the car bomb exploded.

"There was a long line of cars. Fortunately, the blast barriers worked in this case," Murray said.

The blast incinerated three cars, reducing them to hulks of twisted, charred metal. Another five cars were badly damaged, some turned on their side from the force of the blast.

The explosion was so strong that it hurled the engine of the car carrying the bomb some 15 feet from the site of the blast.

Shattered glass from nearby shops littered the area. A column of thick black smoke rose from the blast site and drifted across Baghdad. Residents living in homes as far as 100 yards away from the blast reported shattered widows and doors becoming unhinged.

The car that held the bomb burned after the blast and it took several firefighters to put out the flames.

On Jan. 17, a suicide truck bombing at a Green Zone gate in central Baghdad killed 24 people and wounded about 120. Three U.S. civilians and three American soldiers were among the injured in the bombing at what U.S. soldiers call the "Assassins' Gate," an ornate gate leading to Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace compound, now the headquarters of the U.S.-led occupation.

Blast walls and dirt-filled baskets were erected at that gate and other checkpoints in the Iraqi capital following the January blast. Murray said U.S. military checkpoints for car and pedestrian traffic remain "security worries." The checkpoints are used by foreigners who live and work inside the Green Zone, as well as thousands of Iraqis going to and from jobs inside the zone.

Several hundred Iraqi families also live inside the Green Zone and are issued with special passes and are subjected to stringent searches on entering the area.

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