Suicide blasts near Baghdad bank kill 28
A double suicide car bombing tore through a crowded commercial district near a bank yesterday in Baghdad, killing at least 28 people.
It was the second strike to hit a major financial institution in a week.
The attack added weight to warnings that rebels would try to foment unrest as deadlocked politicians squabbled over forming a new government more than three months after inconclusive national elections.
The bombers drove two cars packed with nearly 82kg of ammonium nitrate toward the gates of the Trade Bank of Iraq building and detonated the explosives, after striking the blast walls protecting the building, said Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi military spokesman for Baghdad.
The nearly simultaneous blasts occurred shortly after 11am as the area was packed with people at the start of the work week in Iraq.
Security forces swarmed through the debris while clean-up crews used forklifts to move the charred wreckage of several vehicles.
Mr Al-Moussawi said at least 18 people were killed and 42 wounded. But three Iraqi police officials and a doctor at the Yarmouk hospital where many victims were taken put the toll at 28 killed and 57 wounded. Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.
The twin bombing capped a week in which about 100 people were killed in bombings and shootings nationwide, including at least 26 who died in a commando-style assault against the central bank in Baghdad last Sunday.
An al-Qa'ida in Iraq front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it targeted the institution responsible for funneling "oil money and the stolen wealth of Muslims" to the West.
Sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007 has dropped sharply after a series of US-Iraqi offensives, a Sunni revolt against al-Qa'ida and a Shiite militia ceasefire. But Iraqis still face near-daily attacks.
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 March 7 parliamentary vote.
Ahmed Abdullah, an engineer in the Electricity Ministry, said bickering politicians "have encouraged al-Qa'ida sleeper cells to resume work and strike again.
"Ordinary Iraqis are paying the price of the political struggle in Baghdad," he said.
The ability of insurgents to penetrate areas with tight security has raised questions about the readiness of Iraqi forces to take over their own security less than three months before all American combat troops are to leave the country, the first step toward a full withdrawal by the end of next year.