Middle East News
At least 50 killed, 200 injured in Baghdad blasts (3rd Lead)
Apr 4, 2010, 13:30 GMT
Baghdad - At least 50 people were killed and 200 injured in three powerful explosions in Baghdad on Sunday morning, police told the German Press Agency dpa.
Police said the most powerful blast was near the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad's al-Salihiya district. Many of those injured in that blast worked at the bank next to the embassy, police said.
A man screamed hysterically outside the bank minutes after the blast, saying it was a miracle he had survived when so many dozens of others had been killed.
'All these explosions are because of the conflict over power and the formation of the new government,' witnesses reported him as yelling.
The blast badly damaged the buildings housing the satellite news network al-Diyar and the Press Syndicate, blowing out the windows and injuring an unknown number of journalists inside.
A second blast exploded in Baghdad's busy al-Rowad Square, the site of many offices and shops, police said. The third exploded on al-Amirat Street, where the Egyptian consulate and the German, Brazilian and Syrian embassies are located.
An Iraqi guard on duty at the German Embassy was killed and three others were injured, the German Foreign Ministry said.
'Our solidarity goes out to the Iraqi people, who we will continue to support in their efforts for peace and democracy,' German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, condemning the attacks.
A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo said that the Iraqi head of the consulate's security detail and 'several' Iraqi guards had killed been killed. Four Egyptian employees at the consulate were also lightly injured by flying glass after the blast shattered windows.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit condemned the 'despicable acts of terrorism,' and extended Egypt's sympathy to the families of the Iraqi 'martyrs.'
However, Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command, told reporters that he could only confirm six deaths and 140 injuries.
'We are anxious to give accurate information about the number of victims,' he told state television. 'The Iraqi Ministry of Health is the only competent body for statistics on the number of victims and injuries.'
He said that Iraqi forces had killed a would-be suicide bomber as he tried to detonate his explosives belt in Baghdad's al-Masbah district.
'The battle with terrorists continues,' Atta said. 'Al-Qaeda is still influential. Today's operations affected us and require more security and military actions to put an end to terrorism.'
The blasts plunged the capital into chaos as dozens of ambulances tried to battle through the streets clogged with people trying to get home for fear of more attacks, while security officers at checkpoints throughout the city carefully checked vehicles for explosives.
Earlier in the day, at least 12 people had been injured in three smaller bomb attacks, Baghdad's Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported.
Tensions are high in the country as politicians wrangle to form a government following tight, and contested, parliamentary election results from the March 7 elections.