x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Triple car bombing in Baghdad

Three car bombs in quick succession during peak morning rush hour in the centre of Baghdad kill at least five people and injure 16 more.

BAGHDAD // Car bombs ripped through downtown Baghdad early today, killing five and wounding at least 16 people in the latest attack near government buildings in the Iraqi capital, police and health officials said. At least three blasts occurred within minutes of each other near the heavily protected Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy, the Iraqi parliament and other government offices. The attacks raise fresh questions about the government's ability to protect itself and its citizens as US forces prepare to leave Iraq. "There were two military checkpoints using detectors at the beginning of the street, how can such car bombs manage to enter and explode?" said a woman who identified herself as Um Ali, her cheeks smeared with blood as she screamed at reporters, echoing the frustrations voiced by many Iraqis.

Two the bombs detonated near the Iraqi government's Foreign and Immigration ministries; a third went off near the Iranian embassy, two police officials said. It was not clear whether those buildings were the targets. The Foreign Ministry is still under construction after being hit during an August bombing. Thick clouds of black smoke could be seen lingering over the area. Firefighters and neighbourhood residents worked to put out fires, while Iraqi security forces fired their guns into the air to disperse growing crowds. "I had just left my house to go to my school when the big explosion took place," said 12-year-old Mohammed Hussein, who lives nearby. "My father shouted at me to go back home. There is no need for school today."

The US military said it would send forensic and explosive experts to help Iraqi authorities investigate the bombings. The three blasts came at the start of the Iraqi workday, and were followed by a series of smaller mortar attacks and assassination attempts on Iraqi lawmakers that unfolded across the capital throughout the morning. It was not immediately known who was responsible for the bombings. * AP