Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Another car bomb strikes Baghdad


US Marines clear the road for buses loaded with former Iraqi prisoners upon their release from Abu Ghraib prison west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad yesterday. US forces released hundreds of detainees from Abu Ghraib prison yesterday.


A car bomb exploded at rush hour yesterday on one of central Baghdad's most heavily trafficked streets, and an Iraqi civil defense official said at least 12 people had been killed and dozens injured. Angry Iraqis shouted "down with the USA" and set fire to an American flag.

A second car bombing occurred yesterday near the town of Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad. Police said a gray Opel drove between police vehicles and exploded, killing four people and injuring four others.

Casualty figures in the Baghdad attack were incomplete in the chaos, as Iraqis crammed injured into private vehicles and rushed them to different hospitals and clinics following the car bombing -- the 16th in Iraq this month.

Iraqi civil defense Colonel Qadri Abdul-Latif said at least 12 people were killed, many in shops and a two-story building that were heavily damaged in the blast, which occurred at Tahrir Square on the eastern end of the Jumhuria Bridge which crosses the Tigris river.

Captain Issam Ali, security officer at the nearby Neurological Hospital, said three dead and 14 injured had been brought there, many with serious burns and lost limbs. Al-Kindi Hospital reported receiving 29 injured.

Witnesses said three civilian sport utility vehicles -- the kind favored by Western contractors -- passed by. All three of the SUVs were damaged and one could be seen burning, and a two-story house was heavily damaged.

At least one charred body was removed from the rubble, along with an blood-soaked elderly man.

A group of about 20 young men danced around a charred body. American soldiers hauled down one Iraqi man and began beating him with sticks.

Terrified bystanders dragged bloodied bodies and crammed them on the back of pickup trucks to rush them to hospitals. Scattered around one of the damaged SUVs were manuals that appeared to be for energy turbines. One of the manuals was entitled GE Energy Products, Europe.

Police said at least eight vehicles had been destroyed in the blast.

"Three American vehicles passed over the Jumhuria bridge heading to Tahrir square," said one eyewitness Mohammed Salman, 55. "One of the civilian cars stopped in the traffic and exploded. The Iraqi police came first and started taking out people out of the American damaged cars. They took out three with their clothes torn from each of the damaged cars on the street. One body is still burning inside the [SUV] which was turned upside down."

The scene was chaotic as terrified people crawled over the rubble of the building to extract the wounded, lifting them with bedsheets and blankets before tossing them into ambulances.

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