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2 Bombs Kill 57 in Central Baghdad

December 12, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Two car bombs targeting day laborers looking for work exploded within seconds of each other Tuesday on a main square in central Baghdad, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 150, police said.

The coordinated attack in Tayaran Square involved a bomb in a parked car and a suicide attacker who drove up to day laborers, pretended to want to hire them, then set off his explosives as they got into his minibus, Lt. Bilal Ali said.

The blasts went off nearly simultaneously about 7 a.m., setting fire to at least 10 other cars, Ali said. Gunfire _ possibly from insurgent snipers _ erupted as people fled the scene.

He said at least 57 Iraqis, including seven policemen, were killed and 151 people were wounded.

Iraqis gather on the square early in the morning, soliciting jobs as construction workers, cleaners and painters. They buy breakfast at stands selling tea and egg sandwiches while they wait for potential employers to drive up.

Khalil Ibrahim, 41, a shopowner in the area, was treated at a hospital for shrapnel wounds to his head and back.

``In the first explosion, I saw people falling over, some of them blown apart. When the other bomb went off seconds later, it slammed me into a wall of my store and I fainted,″ he said.

Tayaran Square is located several government ministries and a bridge that crosses the Tigris River to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraq’s parliament and the U.S. and British embassies are located.

About a mile away, two roadside bombs targeting Iraqi police patrols exploded at 8:25 a.m. and 8:40 a.m., wounding two policemen and seven Iraqi civilians, said police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani.

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