At least 18 Iraqis were killed and more than 30 wounded yesterday as almost simultaneous suicide bombings against two police stations north of the capital left a trail of carnage, overwhelming local hospitals.
A four year-old girl was among six police officers and three civilians killed in this small town 20km from Baghdad when a bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the police station, according to an "initial" toll from the US military.
Minutes later another suicide assailant blew himself up outside the police station in the provincial capital of Baquba further north, killing seven Iraqi police and two civilians, said Colonel Bill MacDonald, spokesman for the US 4th Infantry Division, which patrols the region.
A further five Iraqi police were still missing from that attack, MacDonald said.
The horror of the human detritus from the two attacks was so great that doctors said it was difficult to be precise about the toll.
Western correspondents saw flesh and body parts strewn over the ground at both bomb scenes. Police were forced to fire in the air to disperse anguished residents so they could evacuate the wounded and clear the area.
"We received so many body parts it's difficult to know how many died," said doctor Taleb Hussein al-Tamimi. "We've been utterly overwhelmed."
A further 10 people were wounded in the 7:30am attack in Khan Bani Saad which tore a massive hole through the wall of the police station.
"The Chevrolet car came very fast ... Police opened fire but it didn't stop," police chief Ismail Kano al-Askari said.
In the Baquba bombing, another 20 people were wounded, according to the US toll.
The force of the blast left a crater 10m across and 5m deep, a Western correspondent saw.