Dozens of people died and more than 150 were hurt when three car bombs went off in quick succession in a southern Iraqi Shi'ite city on Wednesday, police and hospital officials said. The attack in Amara city was one of the deadliest in Iraq in months, Reuters reported.
A doctor at the emergency unit of the biggest hospital in Amara said 27 bodies and 150 wounded had been brought in. The bombs exploded along a main street in the city, the capital of Maysan province.
Most people were killed in the second and third blasts. Many onlookers had gathered after the first blast in a parking lot, officials said. Howevwr, there were conflicting accounts of the number of bombings, with some officials saying two cars had exploded and others saying a third bomb exploded outside a movie theater.
One witness in Amara, 365 km southeast of Baghdad, said the bomb in the parking lot exploded first, followed soon after by the one at the market. Iraq's Furat Television said two men suspected of involvement in the blasts had been detained.
In a Christian neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, a parked car bomb apparently targeting a police patrol killed five civilians, police said, according to the AP. Thirteen people were wounded in the late afternoon explosion in Ghadeer, police said.
The attacks came as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said at an economic conference in the southern city of Basra that Iraq was progressing "step by step" in achieving total security across the country. He added the attack was a "desperate attempt" to undermine efforts to stabilize the country. "Any criminal act they commit would only be a desperate attempt to draw attention away from the clear successes and to break through the siege imposed on the defeated groups," al-Maliki conveyed.