Iraq's Deadliest Bombings Since 2007

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A double car bombing in Baghdad Sunday was the worst to hit the Iraqi capital in two years. Scores of people were killed. The violence is most likely political in nature, and there could be more incidents to come because Iraq's political season is just beginning.


Many Iraqis were beginning to think, or at least hope, that street bombings were a thing of the past. Yesterday, Baghdad suffered its worst attack in two years. A double car bombing killed more than 150 people and wounded more than 500. The attacks came at the start of a tense election season. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

QUIL LAWRENCE: Iraqi officials believe it was two suicide car bombs that targeted the Justice Ministry and Baghdad's municipal council building along Haifa Street in the center of Baghdad's government district.

The street is a chronicle of Iraq's recent wars, within sight of buildings that have remained bombed-out shells from the American invasion in 2003. Open sectarian warfare left the street with broken glass and bullet marks from the years in between. With the recent calm, blast walls had been coming down on Haifa Street, which made this newest explosion all the more painful.

(Soundbite of music)

A few local mosques called for noon prayers, as a frantic crowd of police and soldiers rushed in along with rescue workers to evacuate the wounded. American helicopters buzzed overhead, as a burst water main flooded the street with fresh water, mixing with the ashes, metal and human remains. Parts of cars hung from the upper floors of the Justice Ministry, now a blackened shell.

Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: A surviving guard from the municipality building cried as he began cursing Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki for failing to protect his citizens. The guard wasn't alone in looking for someone to blame.

Ms. IMAN AL-BARSINGI(ph) (Municipal council, Baghdad): (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. AL-BARSINGI: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Iman Al-Barsingi, a member of the Baghdad municipal council, screamed at the policeman who tried to shuffle her away from her ruined workplace.

Ms. AL-BARSINGI: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: She blamed al-Qaida and militant Islamists from the countries around Iraq, who she said are slaughtering Iraq's people because they don't want democracy to succeed here.

It's still not clear who authored the attack, but officials say the larger target was the institutions of Iraq's fragile government, as with similar bombings that destroyed the foreign ministry and the Finance Ministry on August 19th.

And along with doubts about the government, the bombing also fuels divisions. Mohammed al-Rabahi(ph), an opposition politician, said at the scene, that Prime Minister Maliki must be voted out for failing to prevent the bombings.

Mr. MOHAMMED AL-RABAHI (Iraqi Politician): He need to be changed and must to be changed. And must to be the democratic start.

LAWRENCE: Were these bombers Iraqi?

Mr. AL-RABAHI: This is al-Qaida, Baath... I don't know. I don't know.

LAWRENCE: Maliki later arrived at the scene of the disaster but without much reassurance to offer Baghdadis.

After the bombs in August, Maliki seemed to retain his reputation as the man who brought relative peace to Iraq. It may be much harder for him to recover from this second blow. And the political situation in Iraq has deteriorated as well.

Gridlock in parliament here has prevented a law that would regulate Iraq's nationwide election scheduled for January. The deadline to pass the law was ten days ago. Now, politicians in Baghdad, as well as U.S. generals and diplomats, are beginning to wonder what might happen if the vote is delayed and whether Iraq's democratic institutions can withstand many more of these devastating attacks.

Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Baghdad.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from