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27 killed in Baghdad blast

Baghdad: A mortar barrage followed minutes later by a car bomb blasted Baghdad's upscale Karradah district on Thursday killing 27 persons and wounding 63, police said.

The explosions occurred at midmorning in a religiously mixed neighbourhood controlled by a major Shia party, two days after U.S. President George W. Bush approved plans to send more American and Iraqi troops into the capital city to curb rising sectarian violence.

Several mortars landed in the district, some destroying a bank and an apartment building that later collapsed in flames, said Interior Ministry secretary Saadoun Abu a-Ula. The others exploded in the middle of busy streets crowded with traffic.

The car bomb exploded just blocks away near a gas station, shattering storefronts and spraying flaming gasoline onto homes and stores, the Interior Ministry said.

Police Col. Abbas ohammed Salman gave the casualty toll as 27 dead and 63 wounded.

Karradah is among the city's most upscale districts and home to several leading politicians from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's biggest Shia party. Dozens of dazed, blood-soaked survivors shuffled through the rubble as emergency crews loaded crying victims into ambulances, witnesses said.

AP

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