iraq bomb 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A suicide car bomber struck a predominantly Shi'ite neighborhood in central Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 26 people and wounding 54, police said. The blast occurred shortly after two rockets slammed into the heavily fortified Green Zone.
The US military said at least two rockets, possibly three, struck the Green Zone, and six people were injured. The attack caused little structural damage, it added in a statement.
Two hours later a second huge explosion rocked the area of the suicide bombing. Police said they had blown up a second car bomb that had been disabled before its second suicide bomber could detonate the vehicle.
A massive plume of black smoke rose into the air on the east bank of the Tigris River and heavy gunfire rang out across the city center in the aftermath.
The suicide bomber struck in the central neighborhood of Karradah, the second bombing to strike the area in three days. At least three policemen were among the dead.
Angry Shi'ite residents took to the streets chanting "We want the Sunnis out!" There is a small Christian and Sunni population in that section of the city.
Most of the bomb attacks in the sectarian warfare that has consumed the capital and central Iraq for the past year are believed to be the work of Sunni insurgents attacking Shi'ites.
The blast shattered windows in surrounding apartment buildings and devastated several vehicles as sirens from emergency vehicles wailed.
It struck shortly after the explosions in the Green Zone, which houses the US and British embassies and Iraqi government offices, the public address system inside the massive compound could be heard warning in English that people should take cover, "this is not a drill."
US Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor told The Associated Press that there were no fatalities and the situation was under control.
"The embassy is functioning normally," he said.
Karradah has been the site of several past bombings, including one on Tuesday that killed four people and wounded seven.
Ambulances raced from the scene, at least one with the back door still open and bodies stacked in the back, according to television footage. Smoke rose above the date palm trees lining the streets.
The explosion destroyed three minivans, 11 cars and dozens of shops as well as the neighborhood's post office, according to a resident.