Baghdad: A pair of suicide car bombings devastated the heart of Iraq’s capital, killing at least 147 people in the country’s deadliest attack in more than two years. The bombs targeted two government buildings and called into question Iraq’s ability to protect its people as US forces withdraw.
The bombings show that insurgents still have the ability to launch horrific attacks even as violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq. Many fear such attacks will only increase as Iraq prepares for crucial January elections.
The dead included 35 employees at the Ministry of Justice and at least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, said police and medical officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media. At least 721 people were wounded, including three American contractors.
The street where the blasts occurred had just been reopened to vehicle traffic six months ago. Shortly after, blast walls were repositioned to allow traffic closer to the government buildings. Such changes were touted by Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a sign that safety was returning to the city.
The Iraqi leader walked among the mangled and blackened cars, which lay in front of blast walls that had been decorated with peaceful street scenes of Iraq. At the Justice Ministry, windows and walls on both sides of the street were blown away, and blood pooled with water from burst pipes.