Deadly Explosions Rock Baghdad
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
Iraq is now in the middle of delicate negotiations to form a new government after last month's elections. American officials worry that the violence will continue throughout the process. NPR Baghdad bureau chief Quil Lawrence joins us. And, Quil, can you describe the scene of the bombings, please?
QUIL LAWRENCE: And so, you know, rescue workers were trying to get the wounded out, helicopters flying overhead and shutting down traffic throughout the city.
HANSEN: Well, I would imagine the Iranian embassy is pretty well- guarded. So why are such well-guarded sites still vulnerable, I mean, that vulnerable to car bombs?
LAWRENCE: The bomb that was near the Syrian and German embassies today was inside one of the most heavily guarded parts of Baghdad, as well, tiny streets with many checkpoints that we went through on our way to the scene. And it seems impossible that someone with a car full of explosives should have been able to get there, and it really does undermine people's confidence that the state can provide them any sort of safety here.
HANSEN: Any indication that these bombings were connected to the political process going on now in Iraq?
LAWRENCE: But again, these are rumors and speculation. When these sort of things happen in Baghdad, it's really anyone's guess who might be behind it.
HANSEN: But do you not observe an increase in the use of suicide bombers, whether, you know, by car or people who are wearing explosives on their person? There just seems to have been so many of them in the past few weeks.
LAWRENCE: Now, that's what both American and Iraqi officials on the ground have said, that they see these attacks as intended to stir up violence, and they're just hoping that they'll fail.
HANSEN: Any idea when a new government may be formed?
LAWRENCE: I was actually talking with a senior advisor to the prime minister just right after these bombs went off. And he was saying it's going to be a very slow process. There needs to be patience. We've seen furious negotiations between all of the sections. We're thinking that it'll be the summertime at least before we see a new government here. And, of course, by that time, American troops will have reduced their number by almost half here in Iraq.
HANSEN: NPR Baghdad bureau chief Quil Lawrence. Quil, thank you very much.
LAWRENCE: Thank you, Liane.
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