Three car bombs rocked Baghdad this morning, in a co-ordinated attack that shattered a period of relative calm in the city.
The explosions happened in quick succession just before 11.30am and were in different locations. One was outside the Iranian Embassy in Karadat Mariam district, about 1km west of the International Zone, a second was in al-Ruad Square, in the western Mansour district, and a third was outside the German Embassy, also in Mansour, in a street that has many other embassies.
A police source told The Times that there was a private security company based near al-Ruad Square. The Interior Ministry said initially that 15 people had been killed at the Iranian Embassy. Television reports also suggested that there were victims at the Egyptian Embassy.
The Baghdad Operations Centre said that 20 people had been killed and 45 wounded and that all three car bombs were suicide attacks. The centre also said that the al-Ruad Square bomb had been targeted at the German Ambassador’s residence. The Interior Ministry put the total death toll at 30 and said that at least 224 people were wounded.
The attack is reminiscent of co-ordinated attacks on Baghdad in August, when simultaneous multiple car bombs targeted the Ministry of Justice and the Baghdad Provincial Council, and in December when the Federal Court and Foreign Ministry and the new location of the Finance Ministry were targeted. In January, three hotels were targeted, including the Hamra where the Times bureau was hit, killing a Times employee.
Although the security situation in Baghdad has improved in the past year, these attacks have undermined the Iraqi Government’s claims to have brought stability to Iraq.
Today’s bombing comes amid a time of heightened tension in the country, as political blocs struggle for power after the March 7 election.
There have been fears that sectarian splits could deepen as the Iraqi National movement, a party supported by the majority of Iraq’s Sunni population, won the most parliamentary seats, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting hard to stay in power.
There was also a brutal incident of apparently sectarian-linked violence on Saturday, when men disguised in uniforms marched into Sufia, a village south of Baghdad, and killed 25 civilians.
All the victims were linked to the Sahwa, or Awakening movement, a civilian-led armed movement that began in 2006 and worked with American and Iraqi security forces against insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda.
The killings on Saturday seemed likely to be a revenge attack by militants. While neither attack seems directly connected to the electoral process, coming as they do in a period of post-election turmoil, they will fuel concerns about the future of the country, as the new Government attempts to form and American forces plan to reduce their numbers by almost half by the end of the summer. Times