Baghdad: Suicide bombers detonated two explosives-packed cars on Monday outside Baghdad`s heavily fortified Green Zone, killing at least nine people and wounding 23, officials said.
Baghdad military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the bombers appeared to be targeting the motorcades of two senior government officials — one from the military, the other from the Cabinet — who were headed to work. He declined to elaborate.
The cars blew up shortly after 8 am, in a line of vehicles that were waiting to be cleared into the Green Zone, which houses Iraq`s Parliament and ministry offices, as well as several foreign embassies.
Two police officers and an official at al-Yarmouk hospital said nine people, including five Iraqi soldiers, were killed and 23 people were wounded in the attack. Al-Moussawi put the number of dead at six, with 14 wounded, but added that "this is not a final death toll”.
Conflicting casualty numbers are common in the immediate aftermath of attacks.
The vehicles blew up about 400 meters (yards) from the security checkpoint on a western road between the Green Zone and Baghdad`s international airport. The explosion set ablaze some of the cars that were waiting to enter the Green Zone, al-Moussawi said.
A few miles (kilometres) away, two more roadside bombs exploded a few minutes later in what appeared to be an unrelated strike. Police said nine passers-by were wounded in the attack outside a restaurant in Jadriyah, a mixed Sunni-Shi’ite neighbourhood on the southeastern side of the Tigris River.
Violence has ebbed across Iraq since the days of sectarian fighting just a few years ago that brought the country to the brink of civil war. But deadly bombings and shootings still occur on a near daily basis as insurgents seek to highlight Iraq`s continued instability as US troops prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.