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3 blasts rock central Baghdad, killing at least 21

3 blasts rock central Baghdad, killing at least 21

Suicide attackers detonated three car bombs near foreign embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 100, authorities said.
The attack deepened fears that insurgents will seize on the political turmoil after last month's parliamentary elections to sow further instability.
The blasts went off within minutes of each other _ one near the Iranian embassy, and two others in an area that houses several foreign embassies, including the Egyptian and German embassies, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the city's operations command center.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone from the embassies was among the dead or wounded.
"These explosions targeted diplomatic missions," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. "It's a terrorist act. We expect the death toll to rise." He said all three explosions were suicide car bombs.
Multiple, coordinated bombings in the capital have become a hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Two police officials and a doctor said at least 14 people were killed outside the Iranian embassy, where AP Television News footage showed civilians loading casualties into police vehicles and ambulances. Stunned victims, many in blood-spattered clothes, were fleeing the scene as smoke rose in the background.
One man was cradling a small girl wearing a white dress in his arms.
The police officials said many of the victims were employees at a nearby state-run bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media.
At least seven were killed in the other explosions, police officials said. Al-Moussawi said at least 140 people were wounded in all three attacks.
Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, said it was unclear whether the blast was targeting the embassy itself.
"The explosion happened at the embassy gate, targeting visitors and Iraqi police," he said. "There was some damage to the embassy building but no employees were harmed inside."
Calls to the other embassies rang unanswered.
The force of the blasts shook buildings and rattled windows in the center of the capital.
Al-Moussawi said police arrested a man who was suspected of planning to detonate a suicide car bomb near the former German Embassy, which is now a bank. The man was arrested inside a car loaded with explosives, al-Moussawi said.
Sunday's explosions come two days after an execution-style attack killed at least 24 Sunnis. The slayings reignited fears of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007.
There have been increasing concerns that insurgents will take advantage of Iraq's political turmoil to further destabilize the country, nearly a month after parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win.
Many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months.
Sunday's explosions, which occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m., came after a number of far smaller blasts overnight and early Sunday. One of those earlier blasts, believed to be caused by a bomb underneath a parked car killed one civilian and injured nine others, according to police.
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Associated Press Writers Saad Abdul-Kadir, Hamid Ahmed, Sinan Salaheddin and Elizabeth A. Kennedy contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-13 10:43 GMT+08:00