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Three Explosions Rock Central Baghdad


Smoke billows from the scene of one of the explosions in central Baghdad.
Three explosions have struck central Baghdad within minutes of one another, killing at least 30 and wounding up to 170.

Saad Kamel, a Baghdad correspondent for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq, reported that the largest explosion occurred near the Iranian Embassy and the Real Estate Bank building, both near Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone.

“The bank building is severely damaged. Tens of employees [and others] were killed or injured, and dozens of cars were damaged or burned there,” Kamel said.

Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, said visitors to the Iranian Embassy and Iraqi guards appeared to be targeted in that explosion, but it was unclear whether the blast was targeting the embassy itself. He said there was some damage to the embassy building but no employees were harmed inside.

The Associated Press quotes a security spokesman, Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, as saying that all three of the explosions targeted diplomatic missions. He added that the death toll is expected to rise.

Two of the blasts were car bombs in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur, the location of several foreign embassies. The explosions were reportedly close to the Egyptian Embassy and the home of the German ambassador.

The latest violence follows an attack in the village of Albusaifi, south of Baghdad, on April 2, in which gunmen massacred 24 people.

Iraqi military officers said the said the gunmen wore U.S. military uniforms, and several spoke English, to give the impression that they were American forces.

All the dead were linked to a Sunni group that revolted against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Iraqi officials have blamed Al-Qaeda for the killings.

Today's bombings also come as Iraqi political parties negotiate to form a government, nearly a month after a general election on March 7 that left four main blocs without sufficient seats to form a parliamentary majority on their own.

Security officials have warned that a protracted period of coalition building could give insurgents an opportunity to further destabilize Iraq.

Compiled from agency reports. RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq contributed to this report.