msnbc.com news services
updated 10/4/2004 6:31:36 AM ET 2004-10-04T10:31:36

Two car bombs ripped through Baghdad streets on Monday, with one blast killing at least 15 people and wounding 81 at an entrance to the Green Zone, the seat of the U.S. Embassy and key Iraqi government offices, officials said.

In the first explosion, a four-wheel-drive vehicle packed with explosives detonated outside the heavily fortified complex, Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.

Yarmouk Hospital received 15 bodies and 81 wounded from the explosion, said Sabah Aboud, the facility’s chief registration official.

No Americans were believed hurt or killed in the blast, which happened shortly before 9 a.m. near a checkpoint at the western entrance to the Green Zone, said Maj. Phil Smith, a spokesman for the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division

“I was thrown 10 meters away and hit the wall,” said Wissam Mohammed, 30, who was visiting a nearby recruiting center for Iraqi security forces when the explosion happened. He lay in a bed at Yarmouk Hospital, his right hand broken, his head wrapped in bandages and his clothes stained with blood.

Troops cordoned off the scene and helicopters clattered overhead.

The second car bomb exploded at 9:45 a.m., near a number of major hotels, Abdul-Rahman said. American and Iraqi forces opened fire after the blast, but it was not immediately clear what they were shooting at, witnesses said.

The car carrying the explosives was ripped in half with one part left dangling from a shop sign on the opposite side of the street.

At least five other cars were charred and a burned body was left sitting in one of them. Broken glass littered the street.

Some of the injured, including a man with bloodied bandages wrapped around his head, were helped into nearby hotels. Others were rushed to surrounding hospitals.

Smith said that no Americans were hurt in the second blast, either.

Thick black smoke rose from the scene and a pair of helicopters circled the area as troops blocked off the road.

Children killed in Mosul blast
Another car bomb exploded near a primary school in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Monday, killing seven people, including two children, Iraqi police said.

Witnesses said the car was travelling through a southern neighborhood of the city with two people inside when it blew up, possibly prematurely. Police said two children and three civilians were killed, as well as the two men in the car.

Baghdad's Green Zone and the area around Saadoun Street have been the target of previous suicide attacks that have killed dozens of people.

Also in Baghdad, a senior official of Iraq’s Sciences and Technology Ministry and a female employee were assassinated Monday, the Interior Ministry said. Thamir Abdul-Latif and the woman were killed near Baghdad’s southeastern Zayona suburb, said Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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