- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

BAGHDAD — Terrorists unleashed a pair of powerful car bombs yesterday near the symbol of U.S. authority in Iraq — the green zone, where the U.S. Embassy and key government offices are located — and hotels occupied by hundreds of foreigners. Other explosions brought the day’s bombing toll to at least 25 dead and more than 100 wounded.

The U.S. military said an American soldier was killed and two others were injured when a roadside bomb targeted their convoy near Baghdad late yesterday.

The day’s violence included assassinations of three Iraqis and U.S. attacks against targets in insurgent-held Fallujah. In the latest hostage developments, kidnappers freed two Indonesian women, but a separate militant group said it had killed a Turkish man and a longtime Iraqi resident of Italy.

No coalition forces were wounded in yesterday’s car bombings in Baghdad, said Maj. Phil Smith, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division. But in addition to the soldier who died last night, the U.S. command reported that two of its soldiers were killed at a Baghdad traffic checkpoint on Sunday.

An American security official told The Washington Times that one of the blasts had targeted several South Africans working for the DynCorp security company.

In the first car bombing yesterday, terrorists detonated a four-wheel-drive vehicle packed with explosives at the western entrance of the heavily fortified green zone about 8:45 a.m., said Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

“I was thrown 10 yards away and hit the wall,” said Wissam Muhammad, 30, who was visiting a nearby recruiting center for Iraqi security forces. His right hand broken, his head wrapped in bandages and his clothes stained with blood, Mr. Muhammad lay in a bed at Yarmouk Hospital.

The hospital took in 15 bodies and 81 wounded from the explosion, said Sabah Aboud, the facility’s chief registration official.

An hour later, across the Tigris River, a pickup truck packed with explosives plowed into a three-vehicle convoy as it left a parking lot shared by several high-rise hotels housing hundreds of foreign contractors and journalists.

As people rushed to help, gunmen began shooting from the rooftops and police returned fire, said Tahsin al-Kaabi of the Facility Protection Service, a U.S.-trained civilian guard force.

At least six persons were killed and 15 wounded, said Tahsin al-Freiji, another guard force member.

The security official told The Washington Times that the convoy had been carrying a DynCorp security detail and that the group was hit as its vehicles turned onto the busy street directly in front of the Baghdad Hotel.

“People got blown out of their shoes,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

One of the four-wheel-drive vehicles was destroyed, and the pickup truck carrying the explosives was ripped in half, with one part left dangling from a shop sign on the opposite side of the street.

At least 39 car bombings hit Iraq in September, the highest number in any month since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003. On Thursday, insurgents set off a series of vehicle explosions that killed at least 35 children and seven adults in Baghdad.

Two more car bombs exploded yesterday in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

One of the blasts killed a civilian bystander and two persons thought to be transporting explosives, said Capt. Angela Bowman, a military spokeswoman. Hospital officials said they treated 11 wounded. The second bomb targeted a U.S. Army convoy, wounding one American soldier, Capt. Bowman said.

cStaff writer Sharon Behn contributed to this report.

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