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Car bomb rocks centre of Baghdad
July 14, 2004
A car bomb has exploded at the main entrance to the heavily guarded area in Baghdad housing government offices and the US and British embassies.
At least 10 people were killed and 40 hurt by the blast, which happened as workers queued to get into the complex.

A BBC correspondent, who was himself waiting to enter, said the explosion came from a car about 50m behind him.

Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi, who went to the scene, vowed to crush those who were responsible for the attack.

Mr Allawi told reporters that three of the dead were Iraqi National Guardsmen and the others were civilians.

The attack - the first significant car bomb since the interim Iraqi government took office at the end of last month - happened at 0515 GMT (0915 local time).

We were thrown on the ground. I saw many dead people on the ground

Witness Alla Hassan

Pieces of shrapnel rained down and there was gunfire as security guards struggled to control the panic.

The explosion occurred at a place where cars queue to drop off and pick up people in the Green Zone, the huge closed-off complex that until June was the headquarters of the US-led authorities in Iraq.

Among those waiting to get inside the zone were office workers, cleaners and journalists, including the BBC's Peter Greste.

He said they had just passed a number of new Toyota pick-up trucks and were waiting to get security clearance when one of those vehicles exploded barely 50m away.

He says it is too early to say it is was a suicide attack, although at least four bodies were dragged from the burning wreckage.

"We were thrown on the ground. I saw many dead people on the ground," one witness Alla Hassan said.

At least 10 ambulances ferried injured people away from the scene. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital, Dr Hussein Hadi, told the AFP news agency that they were treating 20 people, three of whom were seriously wounded.

US forces quickly took control, cordoning off streets with tanks, while helicopters circled overhead.

Smoke rose high into the sky above Baghdad
It is unclear whether there was a specific target or whether it was a generalised attack on people doing business with the new Iraqi government, our correspondent reports.

But he says it is easily the most significant car bombing since the transfer of power from the US-led coalition to the Iraqis at the end of June.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said they were in a race against time to deal with insurgents.

Speaking during a visit to Nato headquarters, he urged the alliance to begin its promised programme to train Iraq's new army.

The area outside the Green Zone has been the scene of previous blasts.

In May, the then head of Iraq's Governing Council, Ezzedine Salim, was killed in a suicide car bomb attack as he entered the zone.

Source: BBCNews

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