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Two Car Bombs Kill At Least 132 In Baghdad

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 25.10.2009 18:15

BAGHDAD (RFE/RL) -- Twin suicide car bombs have killed at least 132 people in central Baghdad, the bloodiest bombing in the Iraqi capital this year.

The first suicide car bomb hit the Justice Ministry. The second, minutes later, ripped through the nearby Baghdad provincial government building.

The second blast came as officials and clerics had gathered in the provincial government building to mark the anniversary of the death of Shi'ite cleric Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr.

More than 500 Iraqis were wounded in the blasts.

Saad Kamil, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq, was reporting on the ceremony when the bomb went off.

"There has been extensive damage. People have died; buildings and cars were damaged," he says. "There has been a lot of damage in the building of the Baghdad Governorate. The whole facade has collapsed. I was inside. There was a fire, and water also poured down."

Kamil says the explosion left nearby streets littered with bodies. It destroyed dozens of vehicles and shattered water pipes, spewing dirty water into the streets.

Kamil was hospitalized with breathing and hearing problems.

Kamil says most of the victims were on the building's ground floor and in the staircases.

"We were on the fifth floor where the commemorations were taking place. The explosion caused the ceilings to collapse on us," he says. "Most of those who had been in the stairways and in the entrances died or were heavily injured. There was less damage in the higher floors."

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office said that the bombs were meant to sow chaos in Iraq similar to attacks on August 19 against the Finance and Foreign ministries that left almost 100 people dead, and were aimed at stopping a parliamentary election in January.

"It is the same black hands [as the August 19 attack] who are covered in the blood of the Iraqi people," said the statement from the prime minister's office. "They want to cause chaos in the nation, hinder the political process, and prevent the parliamentary election."

U.S. President Barack Obama called the bombings "outrageous" and an attempt to thwart Iraq's progress.

"These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women, and children, and they only reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve," Obama said in a statement.

Obama called Maliki and President Jalal Talabani after the attacks, pledging that Washington would "stand with the Iraqis."

"These attempts to derail Iraq's progress are no match for the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people, and their determination to build strong institutions," Obama said.


Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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