Wire Update: Blasts Rock Baghdad, Kill 136, Wound 520
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that two powerful car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 136 people in an apparent attempt to target the city's government offices, Iraqi medical officials and authorities said.
The Washington Post reported that the attacks wounded as many as 520 people.
The Associated Press said that the explosions come as Iraq is preparing for elections scheduled this January, and many Iraqi officials have warned that violence by insurgents intent on making the country appear unstable could rise.
Black smoke could be seen billowing from the frantic scene, as emergency service vehicles sped to the area. Even civilian cars were being commandeered to transport the wounded to hospitals.(Report from newswire sources.)
"The walls collapsed and we had to run out," said Yasmeen Afdhal, 24, an employee of the Baghdad provincial administration, which was targeted by one of the car bombs. "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 car bombs, which targeted the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial administration, come as Iraq is preparing for elections scheduled this January, and many Iraqi officials have warned that violence by insurgents intent destabilizing the country could rise.
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.
At least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city, were killed in the bombing, said council member Mohammed al-Rubaiey.