Car bomber targets Baghdad Green Zone

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The Independent Online

At least 15 people died when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad today near an entrance to the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US Embassy and Iraqi government buildings. Hospital and military officials said a further 81 people were wounded.

At least 15 people died when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad today near an entrance to the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US Embassy and Iraqi government buildings. Hospital and military officials said a further 81 people were wounded.

Less than an hour later, a second car bomb ripped through Baghdad's central Saadoun Street about 50 meters from the Baghdad Hotel causing an unspecified number of casualties.

Later, a further five people were reported killed in a car bomb in the north-east Iraq city of Mosul.

The first explosion happened shortly before 9 a.m. near a checkpoint at the western entrance to the Green Zone, said Maj. Phil Smith, a spokesman for the US 1st Cavalry Division. Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said it was caused by a four-wheel-drive vehicle packed with explosives.

"I was thrown 10 meters away and hit the wall," said Wissam Mohammed, 30, who was visiting a nearby recruiting center for Iraqi security forces when the explosion happened. He lay in a bed at Yarmouk Hospital, his right hand broken, his head wrapped in bandages and his clothes stained with blood.

Yarmouk Hospital received 15 bodies and 81 wounded from the explosion, said Sabah Aboud, the facility's chief registration official.

Troops cordoned off the scene and helicopters clattered overhead.

The second car bomb exploded at 9:45 a.m. (0645 GMT), near a number of major hotels, Abdul-Rahman said. American and Iraqi forces opened fire after the blast, but it was not immediately clear what they were shooting at, witnesses said.

The car carrying the explosives was ripped in half with one part left dangling from a shop sign on the opposite side of the street.

At least five other cars were charred, with a burned body left sitting in one of them. Broken glass littered the street.

Some of the injured, including a man with bloodied bandages wrapped around his head, were helped into nearby hotels. Others were rushed to surrounding hospitals.

Thick black smoke rose from the scene and a pair of helicopters circled the area as troops blocked off the road.

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