The string of bombings, all within less than an hour, was the
bloodiest attack yet in the city of 5 million by insurgents
targeting the American-led occupation and those perceived as working
with it. It also appeared like a dramatic escalation in tactics — in
past weeks, bombers have carried out heavy suicide bombings, but in
The U.S. military said one American soldier was killed and six
U.S. troops were wounded in the bombing at the al Baya'a police
station in the city's ad-Doura district. Iraqi police Brig. Gen.
Ahmed Ibrahim, the deputy interior minister, put the Iraqi death
toll at 34, including 26 civilians and eight police.
Car bombs also exploded at the al-Shaab and al-Khadra police
The Red Cross said 12 of the dead Iraqis were killed at its
office, including two of its own employees.
The bombings came hours after clashes in the Baghdad area killed
three U.S. soldiers overnight, and a day after insurgents hit a
hotel full of U.S. occupation officials with a barrage of rockets,
killing a U.S. colonel and wounding 18 other people. U.S. Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.
"We feel helpless when see this," a distraught Iraqi doctor said
at the devastated Red Cross offices.
A top Iraqi security official blamed foreign fighters for the
sites) is safeguarding freedom and no one will take that away
from us...Some countries, unfortunately, are trying to send people
to do attacks," Brig.Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, deputy Interior Minister,
told reporters, without naming which nations.
At a fourth police station in the "New Baghdad" district,
officers stopped a suicide bomber before he could detonate his Land
Cruiser. "He was shouting, `Death to the Iraqi police! You're
collaborators!'" said police Sgt. Ahmed Abdel Sattar.
In Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, witnesses
said U.S. troops opened fire, killing at least four Iraqi civilians,
after a roadside bomb exploded as a U.S. military convoy passed. The
U.S. command did not immediately confirm the incident or any U.S.
At the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in
central Baghdad, witnesses said a suicide bomber drove an
explosives-packed vehicle, apparently an ambulance, right up to
security barriers outside the building at about 8:30 a.m. and
detonated it, blowing down the Red Cross's front wall, devastating
the interior and blowing shrapnel and debris over a wide area.
Baghdad ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani said she believed the
employees were security guards.
Then, through the morning, four other vehicles exploded at police
stations in the Baghdad area. Ambulances, sirens wailing,
crisscrossed the city all morning.
"From what our indications are, none of those bombers got close
to the target," U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling said. But the
explosions outside police stations left streetscapes of broken,
bloody bodies and twisted, burning automobiles.
Hertling said he believed the attacks may have been timed with
the start of Ramadan in order to heighten tensions during the
fasting month, when Muslims abstain from food and drink during
daylight hours and religious feelings run high.
Near the three-story ICRC building, cigarette vendor Ghani
Khadim, 50, said he saw an Iraqi ambulance pass by his stand and
approach the small compound some 100 meters (yards) away. It
suddenly exploded, he said, and the blast blew out windows and
injured his wife and daughter in his house behind his stand.
The vehicle had stopped some 60 feet in front of the Red Cross
headquarters, "at a line of barrels we have had in front to protect
the building," one Red Cross employee, who would not give his name.
The blast blew down a 40-foot section of the ICRC front wall,
demolished a dozen cars in the area and apparently broke a water
main, flooding the streets. The inside of the building was heavily
damaged, littered with shattered glass, doors blown off their
hinges, toppled bookcases and collapsed ceilings. A gaping crack had
opened in a back wall, some 100 yards from the blast site, where a
crater some five yards across quickly filled with water.
The Red Cross staff member said someone began firing off an
automatic weapon immediately after the explosion — "100 bullets or
more." He said he believed it was a gunmen somehow associated with
the bomber "who wanted to scare people more."
Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani said more than 100 workers
would normally be at ICRC after 9 a.m., but staffers said only about
one-quarter that number were present at 8:30 a.m.
"Of course we don't understand why somebody would attack the Red
Cross," she said. "The Red Cross has operated in this country since
1980, and we have not been involved in politics."
In Geneva, Red Cross spokesman Florian Westphal said the ICRC had
disclosed in August that it had received warnings of a threat and
added that it had been cutting back on its staff since a Sri Lankan
staffer was killed July 22 south of Baghdad.
"Such an attack is a major blow for us," Westphal said. "It's a
big shock. It is obviously impossible to move onto a normal day's
business, so we really have to step back and take stock."
Two buildings away, the explosion devastated the interior of the
Al-Nawal private polyclinic operated by Dr. Jamal F. Massa, 53, who
had been planning to open it as a full-fledged hospital next month.
"We feel helpless when we see this," he said. He said he couldn't
understand why the Red Cross would be attacked, since it had even
reduced its foreign staff recently. "This only hurts guards and
The Red Cross and other international aid organizations had
reduced their Baghdad staffs after the car bombing of U.N.
headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, in which 23 people died in what
appeared to be a warning against international support for the U.S.
The U.S. general Hertling said Monday was "a great day for the
Iraqi police" because security controls prevented the bombers from
reaching their targets.
But Mouwafak al-Rabii, a Shiite Muslim member of the
U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said the United States must
speed up the training of Iraqi police and soldiers and employ
ruthless measures to crush the insurgency.
"There is no doubt about it that we need to change the rules of
engagement with these people," al-Rabii told CNN. "The rules of
engagement now are too lenient."
The rocket attack Sunday struck the Al-Rasheed Hotel, where
Wolfowitz was staying at the end of a three-day Iraq visit. The
deputy defense secretary said afterward that attack "will not deter
us from completing our mission" in Iraq.
But the bold blow at the heart of the U.S. presence here clearly
rattled U.S. confidence that it is defeating Iraq's shadowy
"We'll have to get the security situation under control,"
Secretary of State Colin Powell (news
sites) told NBC's "Meet the Press."
The concrete western face of the 18-story hotel, located more
than two miles west of the international Red Cross building, was
pockmarked with a half-dozen or more blast holes. Windows shattered
in at least two dozen rooms. The U.S. command said the wounded
included seven American civilians, four U.S. military personnel and
five non-U.S. civilians working for the coalition.
Two Iraqi security guards also were hurt. The command did not
immediately identify the dead American, but Wolfowitz said he was a
Eds: Associated Press reporters Lourdes Navarro and Sabah Jerges
contributed to this report.