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Baghdad bomb fatalities pass 150

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The moment a bomb hit Baghdad

Iraqi officials have raised the death toll from Sunday's bombings in Baghdad to 155 and they say another 500 people were wounded in the explosions.

The co-ordinated attacks, near the justice and local government ministries and the provincial government HQ, were Baghdad's bloodiest since April 2007.

Suicide bombers detonated two vehicles, a lorry at a busy junction near the two ministries and a car in a parking bay.

US President Barack Obama branded the attacks "hateful and destructive".

These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children
US President Barack Obama

American troops have been called in to help the investigation and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has pledged that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Mr Obama said in a statement: "I strongly condemn these outrageous attacks on the Iraqi people, and send my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

"These bombings serve no purpose other than the murder of innocent men, women and children, and they only reveal the hateful and destructive agenda of those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that they deserve."

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Iran's foreign ministry joined international condemnation, saying such actions "aim to wreck stability and the process of reinforcing democratic structures".

'Cowardly terrorism'

The bombs exploded in quick succession at 1030 (0730 GMT) near the heavily-fortified Green Zone, Baghdad's administrative centre, as people headed to work during the rush hour.

Army spokesman Maj Gen Qassim Atta said the lorry was loaded with a tonne of explosives and the car was carrying 700kg (1,500lb) of explosive material.

Traffic restrictions in the street which was hit were eased six months ago and blast walls repositioned, as part of a programme which Mr Maliki had said showed progress in countering insurgents.

Dozens of the dead were said to be employees at the two offices. No-one has yet said they carried out the attack.

DEADLIEST ATTACKS SINCE 2003
Aug 2007: More than 500 killed in attacks on villages near Sinjar
Jul 2007: 150 killed in truck bombing in Tuz Khurmato
Apr 2007: 191 killed in car bombings in Baghdad
Mar 2007: 152 killed in truck bombing in Tal Afar
Feb 2007: 135 killed in truck bombing in Baghdad
Nov 2006: 202 killed in multiple blasts in Baghdad
Mar 2004: 171 killed in bombings in Baghdad and Karbala

Source: News agencies, BBC

As Mr Maliki visited the scene of the attacks on Sunday, he blamed al-Qaeda and supporters of former president Saddam Hussein.

"These cowardly terrorist attacks must not affect the determination of the Iraqi people to continue their struggle against the remnants of the dismantled regime and al-Qaeda terrorists," he said.

Overall, violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq compared to a year ago, although sporadic attacks still continue in several parts of the country.

But correspondents say there are fears that violence may increase as the country heads towards parliamentary elections scheduled for the beginning of next year.

The bombs went off as senior politicians were meeting in central Baghdad to try to break the deadlock over a draft law that would enable elections to take place in January.

The meeting ended without agreement, but will re-convene on Monday.

Last week the Iraqi parliament failed to meet a deadline to pass the legislation because of differences on a number of issues, among them whether to tell voters which candidates are on the party lists.

The US government, which has around 120,000 soldiers stationed in Iraq, says it wants all combat troops out by the end of August 2010 in preparation for a full military withdrawal by 2012.



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