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Iraq experiences worst violence in 2 years -

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Iraq experiences worst violence in 2 years

Broadcast: 27/10/2009

Reporter: Ben Knight

Two suicide bombs have torn through the heart of Iraq's capital Baghdad, killing more than 130
people and littering the streets with mangled cars and the shreds of buildings.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Iraq's deadliest violence in more than two years has left the streets of
Baghdad littered with charred bodies, mangled cars and shredded buildings. Two suicide bombs tore
through the heart of the capital, killing more than 130 people and injuring hundreds of others.
Blaming the attacks on Al Qaeda, Iraqi's Prime Minister said they were designed to create chaos
ahead of key parliamentary elections in January. Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports.

(Sound of a massive bomb explosion).

BEN KNIGHT, REPORTER: A mobile phone camera captures the second explosion, detonated just moments
after the first. Once again, the targets were Iraqi Government buildings. This time it was the
Baghdad Provincial Administration and the Ministry of Justice.

UNKNOWN (voiceover translation): As we were doing our business at the Ministry, an explosion took
place, sending up thick smoke, covering us. I saw dead girls and employees fallen on the floor.

BEN KNIGHT: Water mains were destroyed, flooding the streets and adding to the chaos, while the
city centre resembled a car wrecking yard.

Hundreds of people were injured, dozens trapped in the rubble.

Hospitals were overwhelmed as the injured arrived in waves. The lucky ones were able to walk away
by themselves.

This was the second major attack on government buildings in Baghdad after blasts in August that
killed nearly 100 people.

MOHAMMED AL-RUBAIEY, BAGHDAD CITY COUNCILLOR: These government buildings, which were not struck
during the past six years, they start collapsing one by one. This is a deliberate plan to target
the political process in full.

BEN KNIGHT: This is supposed to be one of Baghdad's most secure areas. The attacks came on the same
day that Iraq's Parliament was trying to hammer out an agreement to allow national elections to go
ahead in January. Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has staked his campaign for re-election on
security.

Although violence across the country has been on the decline, today's attacks show that the
insurgents still have the ability to strike hard with devastating effects.

Early reports suggest that two vehicles, each carrying more than a ton of explosives, might have
passed through several checkpoints before reaching their targets. No one has yet claimed
responsibility. Some Iraqi officials blame Al Qaeda or remnants of the Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath
Party for this spike in violence.

These attacks appear to be aimed at destabilising the Government and are expected to get worse
ahead of elections.

SAFIA AL-SUHAIL, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (voiceover translation): We have to reconsider the security
plan drawn up for the capital Baghdad, which is basically targeted during the next stage till the
elections.

BEN KNIGHT: The question is: will they succeed in turning voters against the Al Maliki Government
or instead galvanise them against the attackers? As families of the victims began burying their
dead, the signs weren't good for Iraq's Prime Minister.

ISA SALMAN, RELATIVE OF VICTIM (voiceover translation): Three people were killed: a man, his wife
and his brother. This is the result of the Government's struggle for power. The poor people are the
victims of their running after power.

BEN KNIGHT: The United States has condemned these attacks but says it won't slow its withdrawal of
troops from Iraqi cities. That means it's up to Iraqi forces to maintain security on the streets of
Baghdad, and that's a task that's proving to be a major test.