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Baghdad Suicide Blasts Target Embassies

Suicide attackers detonated car bombs near three embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than 100, authorities said.

The attacks outside the German, Egyptian and Iranian embassies deepened fears that insurgents will seize on the political turmoil after last month's parliamentary elections to sow further instability.

The blasts went off within minutes of each other, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the city's operations command center.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone from the embassies was among the dead or wounded.

"These explosions targeted diplomatic missions," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. "It's a terrorist act. We expect the death toll to rise." He said all three explosions were set off by suicide attackers in explosives-laden cars.

Multiple, coordinated bombings in the capital have become a hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Police officials said at least 18 people were killed outside the Iranian Embassy, where AP Television News footage showed civilians loading casualties into police vehicles and ambulances. Stunned victims, many in blood-spattered clothes, were fleeing the scene as smoke rose in the background.

One man was cradling a small girl wearing a white dress in his arms.

"They cannot frighten us," another man defiantly yelled as he was being helped along by police, his robe soaked in blood.

The police officials said many of the victims were employees at a nearby state-run bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media.

At least 14 were killed in the other explosions, police officials said. Al-Moussawi said at least 140 people were wounded in all three attacks. Other police officials put the total number of injuries at 185.

The explosion near the Iranian Embassy demolished cars and overturned a minibus outside the embassy wall.

"The explosion happened at the embassy gate, targeting visitors and Iraqi police," said Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi. "There was some damage to the embassy building but no employees were harmed inside."

Calls to the other embassies rang unanswered.

The force of the blasts shook buildings and rattled windows in the center of the capital.
Al-Moussawi said police arrested a man who was suspected of planning to detonate a car bomb near the former German Embassy, which is now a bank. The man was arrested inside a car loaded with explosives, al-Moussawi said.

Sunday's explosions came two days after an execution-style attack killed at least 24 Sunnis in a village south of Baghdad. The slayings reignited fears of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007.

There have been increasing concerns that insurgents will take advantage of the postelection period to further destabilize the country. The March 7 parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win.

Many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months.

Sunday's explosions, which occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m., came after a number of far smaller blasts overnight and early Sunday. One of those earlier blasts, believed to be caused by a bomb underneath a parked car killed one civilian and injured nine others, according to police.

This program aired on April 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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