At least 36 people were killed when insurgents set off a series of car bombs outside some of Baghdad’s best known international hotels, including the Ishtar Sheraton.
The three huge explosions rocked the Iraqi capital shortly before the government announced the execution of Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”. It was unclear whether there was any connection between the two events.
The first explosion, at 3.40pm, targeted the landmark Ishtar Sheraton hotel. Shortly afterwards, a car bomb was set off at the Babylon hotel which is used by Iraqi travellers and sometimes for government meetings. The final bomb caused widespread destruction at the al-Hamra hotel.
There was no claim of responsibility for today’s attacks, which come six weeks after a series of blasts killed 127 and prompted widespread protests at the government’s inability to prevent terrorist attacks.
According to initial reports, 15 of the victims were at the al-Hamra, 14 at the Sheraton, and the remaining seven at the Babylon, including two policemen.
Baghdad’s top military spokesman, Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, said suicide bombers were involved in all three attacks.
A government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed the execution of al-Majid. The execution took place about a week after he was sentenced to death for the poison gas attacks that killed more than 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988. It was the fourth death sentence against him for crimes against humanity during the Saddam reign.