NPR logo
Coordinated Blasts Kill More Than 125 In Baghdad
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121190757/121216147" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Coordinated Blasts Kill More Than 125 In Baghdad

Iraq

Coordinated Blasts Kill More Than 125 In Baghdad

Coordinated Blasts Kill More Than 125 In Baghdad
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121190757/121216147" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
  • Iraqi security forces and rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a bomb attack near the new site of the Finance Ministry. A series of five coordinated attacks Tuesday left at least 127 dead and wounded more than 500 in Baghdad.
    Hide caption
    Iraqi security forces and rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a bomb attack near the new site of the Finance Ministry. A series of five coordinated attacks Tuesday left at least 127 dead and wounded more than 500 in Baghdad.
    Khalid Mohammed/AP
  • Smoke billows from the center of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday. The blasts are the most violent insurgent attacks to hit Baghdad since a pair of car bombs struck near government offices on Oct. 25, 2009.
    Hide caption
    Smoke billows from the center of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday. The blasts are the most violent insurgent attacks to hit Baghdad since a pair of car bombs struck near government offices on Oct. 25, 2009.
    Sahah Arar/AFP/Getty Images
  • A bombing on Cairo Street was one of the five coordinated blasts that struck Baghdad on Tuesday.
    Hide caption
    A bombing on Cairo Street was one of the five coordinated blasts that struck Baghdad on Tuesday.
    Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
  • Iraqi security forces and rescuers search for survivors near the Finance Ministry.
    Hide caption
    Iraqi security forces and rescuers search for survivors near the Finance Ministry.
    Hadi Mizban/AP
  • An Iraqi soldier stands at the site of an explosion on Cairo Street where a suicide attacker had blown up his car near the Ministry of Labor.
    Hide caption
    An Iraqi soldier stands at the site of an explosion on Cairo Street where a suicide attacker had blown up his car near the Ministry of Labor.
    Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
  • The U.S. military dispatched troops and forensics equipment following the explosions. Tuesday's attacks once more bring into question whether the Iraqi government is able to fulfill its role in providing front-line security.
    Hide caption
    The U.S. military dispatched troops and forensics equipment following the explosions. Tuesday's attacks once more bring into question whether the Iraqi government is able to fulfill its role in providing front-line security.
    Khalid Mohammed/AP
  • Rescuers evacuate the body of a victim killed by a bomb attack near the Finance Ministry. The previous Finance Ministry building was heavily damaged by a pair of car bombs in August.
    Hide caption
    Rescuers evacuate the body of a victim killed by a bomb attack near the Finance Ministry. The previous Finance Ministry building was heavily damaged by a pair of car bombs in August.
    Khalid Mohammed/AP
  • Iraqis mourn following explosions near the Finance Ministry. Security forces are concerned that there will be an increase in violence leading up to elections early next year.
    Hide caption
    Iraqis mourn following explosions near the Finance Ministry. Security forces are concerned that there will be an increase in violence leading up to elections early next year.
    Hadi Mizban/AP

1 of 8

View slideshow i

Car bombs shook Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least 127 people and wounding more than 500, officials said. In the worst attacks since late October, police say the bombers struck five sites in the Iraqi capital in less than 30 minutes during the morning rush hour.

The bombings came as officials agreed to set March 7 as the date for national elections. U.S. and Iraqi officials have expressed concerns that an increase in violence would mar the country's elections and delay a planned U.S. troop withdrawal set for 2010.

On Tuesday, police and military trucks screamed along the highway, headed toward a plume of black smoke rising from the Baghdad district called Cairo, where a suicide attacker had blown up his car near the Ministry of Labor.

At the bomb site, police and soldiers searched a blackened zone of broken glass, engine oil and debris. Burned and mangled wrecks of cars ringed a crater blasted 6 feet into the concrete roadway.

Police loudspeakers warned civilians away, as rescue workers carried sagging black body bags that looked far too small to hold a complete body.

A dazed-looking young man stood off to the side, his face and hand bandaged, his neck and collar smeared with blood. He said he was driving in the nearby intersection when the blast hit.

He said he felt a tremendous rush of wind that lifted his car and smashed out the windows, but he remembered little else.

Iraqi rescue workers evacuate a body at the scene of a bomb blast in Baghdad. i

Iraqi rescue workers evacuate a body at the scene of a bomb blast Tuesday near the Finance Ministry in Baghdad. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi rescue workers evacuate a body at the scene of a bomb blast in Baghdad.

Iraqi rescue workers evacuate a body at the scene of a bomb blast Tuesday near the Finance Ministry in Baghdad.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Similar scenes played out at four other sites across the city, including a court building and the temporary quarters of the Finance Ministry, which was forced to move after its building was wrecked by bomb attacks in August.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters that the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida and the outlawed Baath party of former dictator Saddam Hussein. He said the goal was to create chaos in Iraq before the national elections.

In Parliament, lawmakers demanded to know why the government hasn't improved security after the previous bombings. Hassan al-Shimmery, a member of Parliament from the Fadheela Party, said the government deserves a big share of the blame for the attacks.

He charged that corrupt officials in the security ministries — defense and interior — put personal profit before the safety of the public. Shimmery went on to charge that officials went against the advice of American experts and spent millions of dollars on explosive detection devices that don't work.

In Tuesday attacks, the killers managed to drive cars loaded with explosives into crowded areas dotted with police and army checkpoints.

Amid the wreckage near the Labor Ministry, police stood aside for a thin young man in blue coveralls, pushing a wheelbarrow. He said his name was Mohammed, and he looked about 17.

He was passing by, he said, and came to see what happened. "It's very bad," he said. "Is this all because of the elections? We don't want such a stinking government."

Mohammed's wheelbarrow was piled with ragged, dirt-crusted chunks of human flesh. He walked on, pushing it toward the Red Crescent ambulance where the body bags were stacked.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org 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.