In one of the deadliest such attacks since the beginning of the Iraq war, explosions of at least three car bombs in came within minutes of each other. Several mortar rounds were also reportedly fired.
The explosions in the Shi'ite neighborhood were followed by a barrage of mortar fire at a nearby Sunni enclave. At least one person was reported killed and several wounded in that attack.
Separately, dozens of masked gunmen attacked the Health Ministry in central Baghdad, clashing with guards and Iraqi Army soldiers.
Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili, who was at the ministry, told the media by phone that around 2,000 employees were trapped in the building.
Al-Zamili survived an assassination attempt on November 20, while another deputy health minister, Ammar al-Saffar, was abducted from his home on November 19. The Health Ministry is headed by politicians loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Imam Al-Mahdi Army has been accused of carrying out sectarian attacks. Al-Sadr City is known as a stronghold of the militia.
Various sources put the number of attackers, which some reports described as Sunni muslim insurgents, at between 30 and 100. Later reports said the fighting there had eased.
Earlier today, U.S. and Iraqi forces swept into Al-Sadr City, killing four Iraqis, wounding eight more, and detaining five.
(compiled from agency reports)
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