|Fire fighters respond as smoke|
billows over Iraqi Foreign Ministry, after massive bomb attack
in Baghdad, 19 Aug 2009
One of the biggest bombs went off outside Iraq's Foreign Ministry, causing casualties both inside and outside the heavily fortified building.
The blast shattered windows in the nearby parliament building, where lawmakers were in session.
Another truck bomb exploded outside the Finance Ministry, while police say mortar or rocket attacks struck other government buildings in the capital.
Baghdad's hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of injured, with reports that some victims were turned away for lack of space to treat them.
The explosions came within minutes of each other, suggesting tight coordination, while the ability of two trucks laden with explosives to pass through various checkpoints to reach the center of Baghdad marked a major security breach.
The attacks are the deadliest in Baghdad since the June 30 withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraqi cities. They are also the latest in a spate of explosions, after a period of relative calm, as the nation prepares for elections early next year.
Professor Abdallah Al-Ashaal of the American University in Cairo says the situation poses a dilemma for both the Iraqis and the United States.
"The United States wants to get out from Iraq as soon as possible, according to their schedule, and they want to leave Iraq secure at the same time," he said.
For Iraq, the violence further casts doubt on whether the government will be able to provide security for its citizens, or even provide enough stability to carry out the elections.
Cairo - 19 August 2009