Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Baghdad blasts kill 57, 151 injured

Staff and agencies
Tuesday December 12, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Iraqis carry a body in a makeshift coffin after two synchronised explosions in Baghdad killed at least 57 people. Photograph: Karim Kadim/AP

At least 57 people were killed and 151 injured when two bombs exploded in a central Baghdad square today.
The bombs went off in Tayaran Square, where scores of Shia Muslims gather each day to try and find work as labourers.

The coordinated attack, which happened at 7am, involved a bomb in a parked car and a suicide bomber, driving a minibus, who pretended to be looking for workers.

Witnesses said the minibus bomber detonated his explosives when several people had got inside the vehicle, and the second bomb, 30 metres away, exploded at almost the same time.

The blasts shattered shop windows and set fire to least 10 cars. Seven policemen were among the dead.

"After the explosion, not a single person in the square was standing ... I thought everyone was dead," Khaled Nasser, a labourer, said.

Khalil Ibrahim, the owner of a nearby shop, said he had seen people "falling over, some of them blown apart" after the first blast. The second threw him against the wall of his shop.

"The driver of the minibus lured the people to hire them as labourers, and after they gathered he detonated the vehicle," another witness, Ali Hussein, said.

In one area of the sqaure, mangled bodies were piled up at the side of the road, partially covered with paper.

Tayaran Square is near several government ministries and a bridge across the River Tigris to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the Iraqi parliament and the US and British embassies are located.

Around a mile away, two roadside bombs targeting Iraqi police patrols exploded this morning. Two policemen and seven civilians were wounded.

Yeserday, at least 66 people were killed or found dead in the Baghdad area and northern Iraq. The victims included 46 men who had been bound, blindfolded and shot in the capital - the latest apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

US military officials announced that three US soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb north of Baghdad on Sunday, making December set to be one of the deadliest months of the war for US troops.

At least 2,934 US troops have died since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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