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102 killed in Iraq's bloodiest day this year

world Updated: May 11, 2010 02:51 IST

AFP
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Three car bombs at a factory, followed by a fourth targeting emergency workers, and coordinated blasts against security forces killed 102 people today in Iraq's bloodiest day this year.

Nearly 350 people were wounded in around two dozen attacks, a surge in violence that came as the country moved closer to forming a government two months after a general election seen as crucial to US combat troops leaving Iraq by August 31.

The deadliest attack saw two suicide car bombs detonate simultaneously in the car park of a textiles factory in the central city of Hilla, as workers boarded buses to go home, followed minutes later by a third car bomb, police Captain Ali al-Shimmari told AFP.

About an hour later, according to Shimmari, a fourth explosives-packed vehicle exploded, engulfing the area as emergency workers treated victims at the scene.

"When I heard the explosions, I rushed outside and saw the massive damage -- there were bodies everywhere, people were crying and screaming," said Haidar Ali, 35, who had by chance stayed in the factory to speak to a colleague.

"It's the fault of the government and the company. They care only about their own personal safety, and they left the workers without any security. They were very easy targets."

Dr Ihab al-Dhabhawi, a doctor at Hilla's hospital, said the explosions, the first of which struck the State Company for Textile Industries at around 1:30 pm (1030 GMT), killed 50 people.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security forces had received intelligence of car bombs targeting the city, 95 kilometres south of Baghdad, and had searched different parts of it before the explosions.

And in the southern port city of Basra, three car bombs at two markets killed 20 people, police said.

The first blast struck in a busy market in the centre of the city, 450 kilometres south of Baghdad, at around 6:00 pm, while two other blasts hit another market in central Basra an hour later.

Earlier today, the capital Baghdad was hit by a spate of shootings with automatic weapons against six police or army checkpoints in the east and west of the city, which left seven dead, the interior ministry official said.

Two other policemen died in three bombings in south and west Baghdad, he added.

"The attacks started at 6:30 am and ended around 8:00 am," the official said, noting that nearly all of the wounded were security personnel.