Three bombings in Baghdad Wednesday have left dozens of people dead and more than 70 others wounded. The attacks appear to have been coordinated to cause maximum civilian casualties.
The first explosion ripped through a parking garage at the al-Nahda bus station, shortly before eight, Wednesday morning, just as travelers were arriving and departing aboard buses, mini-vans and taxis.
The bus station is a major transit point for people traveling to predominantly Shi'ite cities to the south of the capital.
Adistraughtparking attendant at the station, Hussain Gateh, tells VOA that he did not know that he had allowed a suicide car bomber to go into the garage. Mr. Gateh says that a Kia-model car approached him just before eight o'clock. He says he gave the driver a ticket to park, not knowing what the bomber was about to do.
As huge plumes of black smoke filled the sky from the first explosion, a second bomb went off near the entrance to the bus station, killing and wounding dozens of people, who had by then gathered at the station in large numbers.
As ambulances ferried the dead and wounded to nearby al-Kindi hospital, a third bomb detonated near the building, killing some of those who had come to the hospital to help.
Back at the station, several men wept and hugged as they stood next to a bus destroyed by the blast.
The coordinated attacks were the bloodiest in the capital for some weeks.
Some Iraqis speculate that the violence may have been timed to coincide with on-going negotiations among Iraqi leaders to produce a draft constitution. Iraq's parliament gave the constitution writing committee a seven-day extension, after it failed to meet Monday's deadline.
Sunni extremists have vowed to disrupt the political process and promotesectariandivisions between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in a bid to stop the country from moving toward democracy.