Three suicide car bombs targeting the Iranian and Egyptian embassies rocked Baghdad on Sunday, killing 30 in a surge of violence as Iraqis struggle to form a government four weeks after elections.
Officials said the near-simultaneous blasts, which a minister said bore the mark of Al-Qaeda, also wounded 224 people. Witnesses reported mayhem as ambulances and emergency workers raced to the sites of the explosions.
The capital's security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said two blasts were "suicide attacks against the Egyptian and Iranian embassies," while a third struck at an intersection near the German and Syrian missions.
The Spanish embassy, which is next to Germany's, was also damaged.
Among the dead were the Egyptian mission’s Iraqi head of security and a security guard at the German embassy.
Atta said Iraqi security forces had stopped a bomb-laden car in Masbah, central Baghdad, which was apparently going to attack the headquarters of security police tasked with protecting foreign embassies.
The driver was arrested and the device was defused, he said.
"It looks like (Al-Qaeda)," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said. "I really feel it's early, however, unless we ensure the investigation is complete" to say for sure who masterminded the bombings, he added.
"They bear the same marks of previous attacks, in the timing, the targeting, the simultaneous attacks on different targets in different places to have maximum impact," Zebari said of co-ordinated bombings in August, October, December and January that killed more than 400 people.
The two bombs that battered the diplomatic west Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansur were followed soon afterwards by a third huge explosion outside the Iranian embassy.
The explosions occurred within minutes of each other, sparking bursts of gunfire across the city.
Said Mohammed, who was close to the blast which badly damaged the Egyptian embassy, said guards had tried to stop the attacker.