Death toll rises to 160 in Iraqi blasts

Oct. 26, 2009 at 8:34 AM
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BAGHDAD, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The toll from twin explosions, the worst attack in Baghdad in more than two years, rose to 160 people dead and least 540 people hurt, officials said Monday.

Interior Ministry officials said the bombs detonated in quick succession Sunday -- one exploding outside a government building and the other blowing outside of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, CNN reported.

Three U.S. security contractors were among the injured, the U.S. Embassy said. The blasts occurred near the "green zone," which houses the embassy.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who visited the blast sites, said holding elections would send a message to the attackers. The election is scheduled for Jan. 16, but parliament hasn't passed key election legislation, putting the balloting in limbo.

"The cowardly attack ... should not affect the determination of the Iraqi people from continuing their battle against the deposed regime, and the gangs of criminal Baath party and the terrorist al-Qaida organization,'" al-Maliki said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama, calling the attacks an attempt to derail progress in Iraq, pledged to work with the country as it prepares for national elections.

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