Death toll rises in Baghdad

28 October 2003
At least 35 people were killed and over 200 were injured in Baghdad on 27 October when militants struck at five separate targets in the city. In what was the deadliest day in the country since US President Bush announced the end of major combat operations on 1 May, insurgents targeted four local police stations and the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The timing of the attacks, which all took place within two hours, suggest that they were carried out by one group. US military spokesman Mark Hurtling said authorities in Iraq believe that foreign fighters carried out the attacks. He said that a man arrested in northern Baghdad with explosives strapped to his body was carrying a Syrian passport.

The ICRC said that the attack would seriously affect its operations in the country. Senior US officials urged the group and other non-governmental organisations (NGO) not to stop working in Iraq as this would let the terrorists win. 'It has been a bad 24 hours,' said US Secretary of State Colin Powell. 'But they have to balance that desire to do the job and stay with their security needs.' (MEED 27:10:03)

The UN and NGOs scaled down their missions in Iraq after the 19 August bombing of the Canal Hotel, which was being used by the UN as its headquarters in the city. At least 20 people were killed and scores more wounded when a bomb was detonated outside the hotel. Among the casualties was the UN's top official in Iraq, special representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, appointed in May to co-ordinate the organisation's activities in the country.

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