Baghdad—Suicide attackers detonated three car bombs near foreign embassies in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 31 people, authorities said.
Suicide attackers detonated the bombs within minutes of each other Sunday. One exploded near the Iranian embassy, and the two others went off in an area that houses several foreign embassies, including those from Egypt and Germany, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the city’s operations command center.
Two police officers said 31 people were killed and 185 were wounded in the attacks.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release information.
The attack deepened fears that insurgents will seize on the political turmoil after last month’s parliamentary elections to sow further instability.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone from the embassies was among the dead or wounded.
"These explosions targeted diplomatic missions," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press. "It’s a terrorist act. We expect the death toll to rise." He said all three explosions were suicide car bombs.
Multiple, coordinated bombings in the capital have become a hallmark of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Two police officials and a doctor said at least 14 people were killed outside the Iranian embassy, where AP Television News footage showed civilians loading casualties into police vehicles and ambulances. Stunned victims, many in blood-spattered clothes, were fleeing the scene as smoke rose in the background.
One man was cradling a small girl wearing a white dress in his arms.
The police officials said many of the victims were employees at a nearby state-run bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the media.
At least seven were killed in the other explosions, police officials said. Al-Moussawi said at least 140 people were wounded in all three attacks.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, said it was unclear whether the blast was targeting the embassy itself.
"The explosion happened at the embassy gate, targeting visitors and Iraqi police," he said.
"There was some damage to the embassy building but no employees were harmed inside."
Calls to the other embassies rang unanswered.
The force of the blasts shook buildings and rattled windows in the center of the capital.
Al-Moussawi said police arrested a man who was suspected of planning to detonate a suicide car bomb near the former German Embassy, which is now a bank. The man was arrested inside a car loaded with explosives, al-Moussawi said.
Sunday’s explosions come two days after an execution-style attack killed at least 24 Sunnis. The slayings reignited fears of the sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007.
There have been increasing concerns that insurgents will take advantage of Iraq’s political turmoil to further destabilize the country, nearly a month after parliamentary elections failed to give any candidate a decisive win.
Many fear a drawn-out political debate could spill over into violence and complicate American efforts to speed up troop withdrawals in the coming months.