Curfew imposed on Baghdad

The Iraqi capital is under curfew after one of its bloodiest days since the US invasion.

    The Sadr City bombings wrecked entire streets

    On Thursday afternoon, six bombs, apparently coordinated, and a mortar blast had killed 160 people in different parts of Sadr City. The bombs wounded a further 260 people and wrecked whole streets.
    Armed men also attacked the city's health ministry on Thursday and fought security guards in a gun battle, trapping 2,000 employees inside.
    Officials said the toll could rise since many of the dead had been reduced to scattered body parts and not been fully counted.

    After dark, there was sporadic gunfire in several districts.

    One of the blasts went off at a market, a regular target for Sunni fighters in the sectarian conflict that has killed thousands of people in Iraq. The neighbourhood is a stronghold of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

    After the attacks, Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, warned of "the dark hand of conspiracy that is shedding the blood of the innocent" and urged restraint, saying those responsible would be caught.

    Leading Shia, Sunni and Kurdish politicians made a joint appeal for calm on Iraqi television.
    Ministry raid
    Interior ministry sources said five people were wounded at the health ministry building, about 5km from Sadr City.

    "The gunmen came in civilian cars and pick-up trucks and started shooting at the building"

    Hakim al-Zamili, deputy health minister

    Send us your views

    The attackers fired mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns into the compound. The ministry is run by followers of al-Sadr.
    Hakim al-Zamili, the deputy health minister, was trapped in the building with the employees.
    He said: "First, a series of mortars were fired at the building from the nearby Al-Fadhel neighbourhood, and then about 100 masked gunmen holding machine guns attacked.
    "The gunmen came in civilian cars and pick-up trucks and started shooting at the building and wounded a number of employees."
    The attackers later withdrew after clashes with American and Iraqi security forces.
    A health ministry spokesman said: "The gunmen fled as American helicopters and Iraqi armoured vehicles arrived. Employees were [later] able to leave."
    The fighting lasted for several hours but the attackers failed to break into the ministry compound.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Will you push the boundaries or play it safe?

    Curate an art exhibition and survive Thailand's censorship crackdown in this interactive game.