Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Car bombings target seat of authority in Baghdad

October 5, 2004

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— A pair of car bombs hammered central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 21 people outside a hotel and near a recruiting center for Iraqi security forces. Nearly 100 people were wounded.

Insurgents in the northern city of Mosul also struck with two car bombs, killing three people and wounding a dozen.

Monday's blasts in Baghdad went off near heavily fortified American and other Western targets, including the Green Zone, site of the U.S. Embassy and many of the interim Iraqi government's offices. But they hit average Iraqis hardest.

"I was on my way downtown and I stopped to drink a cup of tea," Saad Mehsen, 35, said from his hospital bed. "I did not expect someone would do a suicide attack on this crowded street, but then I found myself going flying. The smoke and dust were everywhere."

The almost daily car bombings have further unnerved a capital city anxious over ambushes, robberies, kidnappings and beheadings.

A militant group claimed Monday to have killed two hostages, a Turk and an Iraqi businessman who was a longtime resident of Italy. The Arab television station Al-Jazeera said it had received videotape showing four armed men dressed in black standing behind two hostages kneeling in front of a ditch. The hostages are then shot.

Two Indonesian women abducted last week were freed unharmed, however. They were handed over to the United Arab Emirates Embassy.

Meanwhile, Poland's defense minister said his nation should pull troops out of Iraq by the end of 2005. A State Department spokesman said Poland had made no official declaration on the matter and that Warsaw was expected to remain in the U.S.-led coalition until "the mission is accomplished and not on the basis of a calendar date."

As of Monday, the U.S. military death toll since the Iraq invasion was 1,058, the Pentagon said.

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