Bombings target government in Baghdad, 147 killed (UPDATED - 3)

Bombings target government in Baghdad, 147 killed (UPDATED - 3)

A pair of suicide car bombings Sunday devastated the heart of Iraq's capital, killing at least 147 people in the country's deadliest attack in more than two years, AP reported. The bombs targeted two government buildings and called into question Iraq's ability to protect its people as U.S. 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 authorized 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.
Al-Maliki has staked his political reputation and re-election bid on his ability to bring peace to the country and pledged to punish those responsible, who he said wanted to "spread chaos in the country, undermine the political process and prevent the holding of parliamentary elections." But the Sunday attacks seemed designed to paint the Iraqi leader as incapable of providing security to the beleaguered city, undermining much of his political support.
The attacks occurred just hours before Iraq's top leadership was scheduled to meet with heads of political parties in order to reach a compromise on election guidelines needed to hold the January vote.
President Barack Obama, who earlier this week reaffirmed the U.S.'s commitment to withdrawing its troops from the country, called al-Maliki to offer his condolences.
"These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children, and they only reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve," Obama said.
The fact that the vehicles were able to get into an area home to numerous government institutions - just hundreds of yards from the heavily fortified Green Zone where the U.S. Embassy and the prime minister's office are located - sparked demands that those in charge of the city's security be held accountable.
"Those responsible for security and intelligence should be checked and interrogated," said Sunni Iraqi lawmaker Wathab Shakir. "Why should innocent people be killed?"
The initial investigation suggested the vehicles, each loaded down with more than 1,500 pounds of explosives, might have passed through some security checkpoints before hitting their destination, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi, a spokesman for the city's operations command center.
There have been no claims of responsibility so far, but massive car bombs have been the hallmark of the Sunni insurgents seeking to overthrow the country's Shiite-dominated government. Iraq has accused members of the outlawed Baath Party living in neighboring Syria of being behind another series of deadly bombings in August that also targeted government buildings. Al-Maliki blamed the attacks on Baathist and Al-Qaida.
Black smoke billowed from the frantic scene, as emergency service vehicles sped to the area. Many of the wounded were loaded into the back of trucks and into civilian cars because there were too many for ambulances to carry.
"The walls collapsed and we had to run out," said Yasmeen Afdhal, 24, an employee of the Baghdad provincial administration, which runs the city. "There are many wounded, and I saw them being taken away. They were pulling victims out of the rubble, and rushing them to ambulances."
The provincial council is the city government, which oversees a broad range of city services such as garbage collection, electricity, distribution of fuel for generators and school maintenance.
U.S. troops were also called in at the request of the Iraqi government to help secure the area, deal with any explosive material and offer forensics personnel to assist in the investigation, said a military spokesman, Maj. Dave Shoupe.
The coordinated bombings were the deadliest since a series of massive truck bombs in northern Iraq killed nearly 500 villagers from the minority Yazidi sect in August 2007. In Baghdad itself, it was the worst attack since a series of suicide bombings against Shiite neighborhoods in April 2007 killed 183.
Three American security contractors working for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad were injured in the blasts, said Philip Frayne, an embassy spokesman. Frayne could not immediately provide details about who the contractors were escorting, which company they worked for or the nature of their injuries.
The explosions were just a few hundred yards from Iraq's Foreign Ministry, which is still rebuilding after massive bombings there in August. The bombings were a devastating blow for a country that has seen a dramatic drop in violence since the height of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007.
On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis were angry at what they described as a lapse in security and wary about what will happen when U.S. forces leave.
"Everyday, we hear statements from different government officials that our forces are ready to control the situation on the ground when the U.S. forces withdraw," Zahid Hussain Najim said. "But day after day it has been found that these officials are either liars or have no idea about what's going on outside their offices."

Oil falls as demand growth concerns outweigh U.S. stock drawdown
Oil falls as demand growth concerns outweigh U.S. stock drawdown
Operating revenue of Fluxys Belgium up
Operating revenue of Fluxys Belgium up
Fluxys Belgium rolling out programs to further reduce methane emissions
Fluxys Belgium rolling out programs to further reduce methane emissions
Loading Bars
Latest
Iran-Najaf flights resume for special passengers
Armenian intelligence network exposed - SOCIAL NETWORKS - PHOTO FACTS
UAE, Israel discuss energy, infrastructure cooperation
Iran declares trade turnover with EU member states
German industry's export expectations up significantly
EAEU countries increase fruit exports to Turkmenistan
Azerbaijani oil prices show climb
Pakistani Ambassador: Azerbaijan ably steered NAM in difficult times, provided leadership for developing countries
46-year-old enters Baku Higher Oil School
Moscow-Baku flights resumed (PHOTO)
Georgia reports 259 new COVID-19 cases
Uzbekistan increases cement production
Uzbekistan leads in foreign direct investment sector
Volume of currency sold at NIMA exchange rate in Iran climbs
Overhaul of Azerbaijani ‘Rasul Rza' dry-cargo ship completed (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers discusses budget-related issues (PHOTO)
Georgia increases import of tea from Azerbaijan
Nobel winners to get $110,000 raise as prize money increased
Corn production in Azerbaijan grows
Iraq oil minister expects deal to up oil exports
Oil falls as demand growth concerns outweigh U.S. stock drawdown
Trading at Iran Mercantile Exchange revealed
Turkmen Rysgal Bank introduces digitalization in payment system
Kazakh Gas Refinery to buy welding equipment via tender
Less than 10,000 getting COVID-19 each day
Georgian taxpayers to finance harvest for viticulturists
Armenian armed forces targetted Azerbaijan's important energy, transport infrastructure in July - MFA
Azerbaijan's Az-Granata talks export, production plans to be done by year-end
President Ilham Aliyev receives credentials of incoming Swedish ambassador (PHOTO)
Iranian currency rates for September 24
Iranian member of chamber: railway potential of Azerbaijan and Iran can maximize trade cooperation
Operating revenue of Fluxys Belgium up
Kazakhstan abolishes death penalty
Fluxys Belgium rolling out programs to further reduce methane emissions
Fluxys Belgium sees significant drop in investments
Azerbaijani currency rates for Sept. 24
Compensation of closed Azerbaijani banks ongoing
Saudis warn U.N. of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker
Some European refiners may leave market
Armenians destroying ancient Albanian monuments of Azerbaijan - historian
Turkmenistan, USAID consider possibility of implementing number of joint projects
SOCAR Trading eyes to create global integrated oil products desk
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 69 times
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister leaves to Georgia for official visit
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for September 24
Israeli cabinet tightens coronavirus lockdown as infections climb
Iran seeks to join its power network to Russia and Azerbaijan
Istanbulites to vote for new planning of historical Taksim Square
Peace, friendship hallmarks of Iranian, Japanese nations: MP
Vice Minister of Healthcare of Kazakhstan relieved of her duties
WeWork sells control of China unit; says unit got $200 million in funding
Kazakhstan’s AIX taking measures to develop local mining companies
Kazakhstan to open General Consulate in Samarqand
Istanbul Airport receives ‘Chinese Friendly Airport’ certificate
US Ambassador Degnan says Georgia’s parliamentary elections should be fair, transparent, free
Zarif arrived in Moscow
Canada will spend big to combat coronavirus, saying now is 'not the time for austerity'
Chilean capital's metro in full operation after damage from social unrest
Brazil's COVID-19 death toll nears 139,000
3 policemen, 4 prisoners dead in foiled jailbreak attempt in Egypt
Saudi king stresses continuous efforts to promote global COVID-19 response
Egyptian FM heads to Jordan for quartet Arab-EU meeting on Palestinian cause
Belgium to relax face mask rules
Finland, Norway and Sweden announce wider military cooperation
Singapore to permit more people back to workplace in easing COVID-19 control measures
Money transfers from Azerbaijan to Russia down in 2Q2020
Vaezi: Legal proceedings underway to receive South Korea's debts
Turkmenistan to help Afghanistan complete railway to Tajikistan border
Exports of knitwear from Georgia to Turkey down
Kazakhstan raises chemicals import from Turkey
Mali risks 'economic paralysis' from post-coup embargo: trade group
New residents in Azerbaijan’s Balakhani Industrial Park
Georgia slightly ups import of grain, legumes from Turkey
Iran, Russia seeking to expand scientific cooperation
Italy's goods export to Kazakhstan down twofold
Anglo Asian Mining increases payments to shareholders
Uzbekistan slightly reduces imports of leather goods from Turkey
Get rewarded with Azercell!
Chairman of Public Organization of Udi people thanks Azerbaijan
Agricultural production up in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan
Iran's plan to develop paddy fields fails, farmers demand compensation
Iranian trucks carrying tomatoes stuck at Pakistani border
Saudi Arabia explores wind potential in Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan to purchase COVID-19 vaccine
Iran to develop power cooperation with Afghanistan
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale September 26
IranAir to resume flights to Germany after several months
Volume of cargo movement through Azerbaijani ports increases
Iran discloses volume of wheat purchased in Ardabil Province
Energy Community: 2020 - remarkable year in terms of Georgia's ability to continue on its reform path
Iran to announce decisive decisions on combating COVID-19
Kazakhstan taking measures to increase railway border stations capacities
Tesla expects approval for battery cells plant in Berlin
UK Brexit border delays 'likely to worsen' in January
Georgia sees decrease in car re-exports
Import of Turkish clothes by Iran plunges
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to rise
Parliament speaker: Azerbaijani people to never allow creation of second Armenian state on their territory (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan confirms 173 more COVID-19 recoveries
Oil accounts for major part of exports from Azerbaijan to Croatia, says ministry
All news