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Blasts rock Baghdad; many killed, wounded

BAGHDAD, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The death toll from a series of car bomb blasts in Baghdad Tuesday rose to at least 127 people with hundreds more injured, witnesses and officials said.

In addition to those killed, about 500 other people were injured, The Washington Post reported.

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The New York Times reported bombs ripped a courthouse, two colleges, a mosque and a bank. At least three involved suicide bombers, the newspaper said.

The bombings struck near a college, a court complex, a mosque, a business district and near the Interior Ministry, in what officials said appeared to be a coordinated attack on Iraq's capital city.

The attacks came just after Iraq's Presidency Council announced a date -- March 6 -- for the country's parliamentary elections.

Three of the bombings, striking in the heart of the Iraqi capital, occurred within minutes of each other, officials said. One explosion hit the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, while the two others detonated in the busy commercial districts of Nahdha and al-Qashla Square. A final bomb exploded outside of the Karkh Civil Court building in Baghdad's Mansour district.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office blamed the blasts on remnants of the Baath Party in exile, working with al-Qaida of Mesopotamia, although officials haven't submitted evidence the claim is true.

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"These cowardly terrorist attacks that took place in Baghdad today, after the Parliament succeeded in overcoming the last obstacle to conducting elections confirms that the enemies of Iraq and its people are aiming at creating chaos in the country, blocking political progress and delaying the elections," Maliki said in a statement.

U.S. helicopters, drones and airplanes circled the city soon after the bombings, while U.S. troops, including explosives removal teams, joined Iraqi security forces in responding to the attacks, a U.S. military official said.

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