Britain condemns Baghdad bombings

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The Independent Online

Britain today condemned a series of bomb attacks which killed more than 100 people in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The co-ordinated explosions included three car bombs near government targets in the worst wave of violence in the city for more than a month.

Officials said the death toll was at least 103, with 197 wounded.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and send our sympathies to the families of those who have been killed or injured.

"While challenges remain, there have been real improvements in security, the economy and politics in Iraq in recent months and we will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government to continue progress.

"Those who seek to use violence to undermine these efforts will not succeed."

Three of the car bombs exploded in the space of a few minutes today.

The targets were a labour ministry building, a neighbourhood near the Iraqi-protected green zone and the new site of the finance ministry, whose previous building was destroyed in major attacks in August.

Dominick Chilcott, a senior Foreign Office official who headed the cross-Whitehall Iraq planning unit, told the inquiry it would have been "useful" to have had more input from DfID.

"The hesitations of the then Development Secretary (Ms Short) are a matter of record," he said.

He said there had been no specific decision by ministers to establish a British-controlled sector in southern Iraq.

Pressed by Sir Roderic Lyne, a member of the inquiry panel, he acknowledged that it had been the "unintended, unplanned consequence" of a process that happened "bit by bit" following the invasion.

"The Prime Minister said at one point that we wanted to be an exemplar in our part of the country which some people took as an indication that he had in mind the idea of a British sector," he said.

However, he said there had been concerns within both the Treasury and DfID about the costs involved.