x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Baghdad blasts kill at least 91

Two car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad, killing at least 91 people, wounding over 260 and sparking turmoil in the embattled Iraqi capital.

BAGHDAD // Two powerful car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 91 people in an apparent attempt to target the fragile city's government offices, Iraqi medical officials and authorities said. Authorities closed off streets leading to the bomb sites, which were littered with charred bodies and torn-off limbs, as fire trucks and ambulances struggled through thick traffic to reach the blazing buildings. At least 91 people were killed and more than 260 wounded in the twin attacks, according to a combined toll given by four hospitals in the capital.

The powerful blasts, which brought a grim reminder of powerful truck bombings in the capital in August which killed almost 100 people, also damaged several nearby buildings and briefly knocked out electricity. One of the attacks occurred at a busy intersection near the ministries of justice and labour, with an AFP journalist saying that the car that exploded was parked in the middle of the street. The other attack occurred nearby, in the Salhiyeh neighbourhood, outside the Baghdad governorate building. "Why are they doing this to us?" shouted a man named Mohammed, who was close to the Salhiyeh attack. "It's because of the election - they want to defy the government!" The twin bombings came as Iraqi political leaders were to meet to try to end a deadlock over a stalled election law amid growing concerns that the country's January 16 election will have to be delayed. Thick smoke billowed over the stricken area and fires could be seen from the two buildings, which are set in the city centre near the state television building. Windows of nearby buildings were blasted in and firemen were using ladders to reach the upper floors of the ministries, fearing that many dead and wounded could be trapped. Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majeed warned on Saturday that the coming months could see an upswing in violence ahead of the January polls, with security only stabilising by the middle of next year after a transfer of power to a new government. "I am concerned that between now ... and July 2010, basically throughout the election and after with the transfer from the old government to the new government, maybe you will see terrorist activities increase," he said. Attacks have dropped dramatically compared to a year ago - violent deaths in September were the lowest since May - but remain high by international standards. *Agencies

Oct 25 - Two powerful car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 65 people in an apparent attempt to target the fragile city's government offices, Iraqi authorities said. Aug 19 - A double lorry bombing in Baghdad kills 65 at the Foreign Ministry and 28 at the Finance Ministry. Two other bombs, including one near the Health Ministry, kill 8. More than 500 are wounded in the attacks. Aug 7 - A suicide lorry bomb targets a Shiite mosque in a northern suburb of Mosul, flattening the mosque and killing at least 44 people. The attack also injured more than 200 people. Bombings against Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad kill seven. June 24 - Bomb rips through crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City, killing 78. May 20 - A parked car bomb explodes near several restaurants in north-west Baghdad, killing 41. April 29 - Twin car bombing in a popular shopping area in Sadr City, the biggest Shiite district in Baghdad, kills 51 people. April 24 - Back-to-back female suicide bombings kill 71 people outside the most important Shiite shrine in Baghdad in Kazimiyah. April 23 - Suicide bomber strikes restaurant in Muqdadiyah, killed at least 53, including 44 Iranian pilgrims, three Iraqis and six burned beyond recognition bodies. March 10 - Suicide bomber targets tribal leaders at market in Abu Ghraib, killing 33. March 8 - Suicide bomber strikes police academy in Baghdad, killing at least 30. Feb 13 - Female suicide bomber targets Shiite pilgrims in Musayyib, killing 40. Jan 4 - Female suicide bomber strikes Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, killing 38.