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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
An Arab-on-Arab attack

By Matthew Price
BBC correspondent in Baghdad

Two men, seriously wounded in the blast, sit in an ambulance
At least eight people have been killed and dozens injured
There is a man tugging desperately at a car door. It is still hot from the flames that engulfed the vehicle.

Inside there is a body. The person is alive, shaking slightly. Then the shaking stops.

Nearby another man aims a hose at the burning wing of the Jordanian embassy. Medics help a bleeding man to a waiting ambulance. There are sirens sounding in the smoky air.

You can barely see the building for the smoke. Wednesday's attempts to cope with the attack are chaotic. Baghdad is not a city equipped to deal with this kind of emergency.

Later the Americans arrive. Their Humvee vehicles and tanks lining up along the road outside the embassy building.

I count at least 50 soldiers and what look like special forces. They have arrived too late to stop the killing.

The debris is spread all around. I step on bits of twisted metal lying at least 200 metres from the site of the blast.

A man says he saw the explosion. "We know there were four people killed in a car. Windows and glass have been smashed," he says.

'Terrorist attack'

A US soldier turns up. Captain Janez is not sure how many are dead.

"There were at least four that were just passing by, just bystanders standing on the side of the street when the car exploded," he said.

"I'm not sure their current status, but they were just walking down the street."

Blazing car after bomb attack

No one can tell me exactly what happened. So far no one has claimed responsibility for what the United Nations here called a "terrorist attack".

And it is a new form of attack. An escalation in the violence here, some say.

There have been many attacks on coalition soldiers in recent months. This time the Americans do not appear to have been the target.

This was an Arab-on-Arab attack. The dead and injured include Jordanians and Iraqis.

Anger at Jordan

So why the attack?

Jordan finds itself in a difficult situation. On the one hand it has courted Washington, keen to be on side with the West. But it also has to keep its Arab population happy.

Jordan has enemies on both sides here in Iraq.

Destroyed car outside the Jordanian embassy
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack
Some accused Amman of supporting the US war against Saddam Hussein.

There are many others who are deeply angry at what they say was Jordanian support for Saddam himself while he was in power.

Just this week a leading newspaper here accused Jordan of being a silent accessory to the crimes carried out by the former president.

And many Iraqis are angry at a recent television interview with Saddam's daughter Raghad, in which she spoke of her experiences during the fall of Baghdad and accused her father's aides of betraying him.

She was interviewed in the Jordanian capital where she now lives with other family members in one of King Abdullah's palaces.

Some are speculating that after years of suspicion and anger directed towards Jordan, this interview may have been the catalyst.

Of course it is too early to do more than speculate. But this attack has underlined one thing. It is possible to drive a vehicle, packed with explosives, up to an embassy building in Baghdad.

The Americans say their number one priority is security. The Iraqis say their number one priority is security.

But so far, it is not being provided.

The BBC's Matthew Price
"Some Iraqis resented what they saw as Jordanian support for the US led war against Saddam"

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