At least nine people were killed and 23 injured when suicide bombers detonated two cars packed with explosives outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone today, officials said.
Baghdad military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the bombers appeared to be targeting the motorcades of two senior government officials - one from the military, the other from the Cabinet - who were heading to work.
The cars blew up shortly after 8am local time in a line of vehicles waiting to be cleared into the Green Zone, which houses Iraq's parliament and ministry offices, as well as several foreign embassies.
Two police officers and an official at al-Yarmouk hospital said nine people, including five Iraqi soldiers, were killed and 23 people wounded in the attack. Maj Gen al-Moussawi put the number of dead at six, with 14 wounded, but added that "this is not a final death toll".
Conflicting casualty numbers are common in the immediate aftermath of attacks.
The vehicles blew up about 400 yards from the security checkpoint on a western road between the Green Zone and Baghdad's international airport. The explosion set some of the cars waiting to enter the Green Zone on fire, Maj Gen al-Moussawi said.
A few miles away, two more roadside bombs exploded a few minutes later in what appeared to be an unrelated strike.
Police said nine passers-by were wounded in the attack outside a restaurant in Jadriyah, a mixed Sunni-Shiite neighbourhood on the south-eastern side of the Tigris River.
Violence has abated across Iraq since the days of sectarian fighting just a few years ago which brought the country to the brink of civil war. But deadly bombings and shootings still occur on a near daily basis as insurgents seek to highlight Iraq's continued instability as US troops prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.