Twin car bombings kill at least 27, wound more than 50 in Baghdad

By Sinan Salaheddin, AP
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Iraq: twin car bombs kill at least 27 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials say at least 27 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in a twin car bombing in a crowded area outside a state-run bank in Baghdad.

Police and hospital officials say the casualty toll has risen as more victims are pulled from the debris after Sunday’s devastating blast.

The explosives-packed cars were a few hundred yards (meters) apart when they blew up shortly after 11 a.m. as the area was crowded with people at the start of the work week.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Twin car bombs exploded Sunday in a crowded area outside a state-run bank in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people in the latest attack targeting a high-profile part of the capital.

The force of the blast tore the glass facade off the three-story Trade Bank of Iraq building, leaving chairs and desks exposed. The explosives-packed cars were parked a few hundred yards (meters) apart when they blew up shortly after 11 a.m. as the area was crowded with people at the start of the work week.

Iraqi security forces swarmed through the debris while cleanup crews used cranes to move the charred wreckage of several vehicles destroyed by the blast.

The force of the blast broke the glass out of all the windows of the three-story bank building, which was surrounded by a concrete blast wall.

Persistent bombings in Baghdad and surrounding areas have raised fears that insurgents are stepping up attacks in a bid to foment unrest by exploiting the political deadlock following inconclusive March 7 parliamentary elections.

Last week, suspected al-Qaida in Iraq militants stormed the central bank and exchanged gunfire with Iraqi security forces in a standoff that brought part of the capital to a standstill.

One employee said nobody inside the building was killed in Sunday’s attack, although some were wounded.

“It was a tremendous explosion that shook the building and shattered all the glass. We were all in a panic and left our offices immediately,” he said, declining to give his name for security reasons. “We were all evacuated and it could take a few days before we return to work.”

The bank is in a commercial area surrounding Nisoor Square that includes a government agency that issues national identification cards and the telephone exchange building.

Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the main Iraqi military spokesman for Baghdad, said at least 18 people were killed and 42 wounded.

Those killed included four policemen and two women, according to police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information to the media.

A series of bombings and a rocket attack also struck the capital late Saturday, killing five people, officials said.

Police and morgue officials also said the decomposed bodies of six women and a man were found buried in the backyard of a deserted house in the religiously mixed Zayouna neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. The seven victims apparently were killed two to three months ago, the officials said.

Iraqi women are frequently killed by religious extremists who accuse them of behavior deemed un-Islamic.

Frustration has been high over the inability of Iraq’s politicians to come together to choose a prime minister and form a government even though the new parliament was seated last week. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been acting in a caretaker role as he battles to keep his job after a rival Sunni-backed political bloc won a narrow victory in the vote.

In the city of Basra, hundreds of mourners chanted slogans against the Iraqi government Sunday as they held a funeral for a man killed when police opened fire during a protest over power cuts in the southern, oil-rich city .

The protest signaled growing anger over the lack of power, clean water and other utilities despite billions of dollars in reconstruction funds since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“Down with the government, down with al-Maliki,” mourners chanted during a procession bearing the coffin of the man killed.

Haidar Salman, a 26-year-old father of three, was killed when police opened fire to disperse the crowd after protesters started throwing rocks and pushed toward the local government headquarters in Basra.

Associated Press Writer Hamid Ahmed contributed to this report.

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