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Strong Explosion Rocks Central Baghdad

October 27, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A car bomb exploded Monday in front of the international Red Cross building and police said at least two people were killed and several injured. A series of blasts rumbled through the city.

One witness said the bomb was packed in an ambulance but there was no confirmation from police.

Iraqi police Lt. Sultan Mohammed said the blast at the Red Cross building was caused by a car bomb. He said the driver and perhaps a passerby were killed. Two cars could be seen burning in front of the building.

A Red Cross staffer, Mahdi Saad, said several people were believed to have been killed or injured inside the building, which appeared to have suffered some damage.

Three other blasts could be heard throughout the city following the Red Cross blast, which occurred after 8:30 a.m. Witnesses said one blast was in the al-Khadra neighborhood, where the relief organization CARE is located. Another was in the al-Shaab district, another witness said.

The blasts occurred one day after a rocket attack on the Al Rasheed Hotel, where U.S. military and coalition officials lived. An American colonel was killed and 18 people were injured in the Sunday attack. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the building but escaped injury.

The explosion at the Red Cross building apparently broke a water main because the streets were flooded with water.

American troops and Iraqi police streamed into the neighborhood and cordoned off the area. Ghani Kadim, 50, a cigarette vendor, said he watched an ambulance move down the street toward the Red Cross building.

``As it entered the front gate of the compound, it exploded,″ he said.

Another witness, Maiytham Mohammed, said the blast knocked him off his feet and ``there was huge smoke from the area.″

``We are aware of an explosion near the Red Cross building,″ a U.S. military spokesman said on condition of anonymity. ``A quick reaction force was sent to the area.″


Eds: Associated Press correspondent Lourdes Navarro contributed to this report.

Update hourly