Iraq: Multiple blasts shatter recent calm in capital

Baghdad, 25 Jan. (AKI) – At least three bomb blasts struck separate locations in central Baghdad on Monday. The blasts killed at least 11 people and injured at least 21 people, police said. The explosions ended over six weeks of relative calm in the Iraqi capital.

The first blast hit the hotel district and was followed minutes later by two loud explosions near the highly fortified international Green Zone, the Voices of Iraq news agency reported, quoting eyewitnesses.

“One of the bombings occurred in al-Firdaws Square near the Palestine Meridien Hotel, while another occurred in al-Jadiriya area,” an eyewitness was quoted as telling VOI.

One of the bombings appeared to have occurred at the entrance of the Ishtar Sheraton hotel, a Baghdad landmark on the eastern side of the Tigris river.

[ad#Google Adsense Horizonal Banner]
The hotel largely houses company offices and some media organisations, although some tour groups started using it again last year.

The Babylon hotel, which is used by Iraqi travellers and sometimes for government meetings, was also targeted.

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising hundreds of metres into the sky after the blasts. TV images showed a cloud of debris rose from the blast site as ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene, which was cordoned off by police and soldiers.

The last major attack on Baghdad was 8 December when a coordinated series of car bombs killed more than 100 people.