127 killed in Baghdad blasts

Five car bombs cause devastation in Iraqi capital

A number of large explosions have killed at least 127 people today, and injured 448, in the centre of Baghdad, capital of Iraq.

The first blast targeted a police patrol in the Dora district of the city. Four others occurred near official buildings - including the interior ministry, the social affairs ministry, a university and the institute of fine arts - within minutes.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi told Reuters that: "Civilians and security personnel have definitely been killed."

This follows an explosion outside a primary school yesterday, which killed eight people. Among the dead were six children, aged between six and 12. Hospital officials said that 25 children were among the 41 wounded.

The bomb yesterday went off in the Sadr City district, a Shia stronghold. It is uncertain whether the blast was caused by a bomb, a rocket, or an exploding weapons cache.

In general, violence in Iraq has fallen over the past 18 months. However, both Iraqi and US military officials have expressed concern about a possible rise in violence, aimed at destabilising the government before next year's elections, scheduled to take place in February 2010.

In October, at least 155 people died, and hundreds more were wounded in co-ordinated attacks in Baghdad.


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