The violence left 38 people dead, including five Americans, and wounded hundreds of others.
Monday’s attacks included car bombs at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross, known as the Red Crescent in the Middle East, and at three Iraqi police stations. The suicide bombers killed at least 34 people, including an American soldier, and injured an estimated 220 others.
Witnesses said an ambulance packed with explosives barreled through the gates of the Red Cross headquarters before detonating explosives packed inside, killing 12 people.
The ambulance reportedly exploded 50 feet from the front of the building. Reporters on the scene said the explosion left a 6-foot crater and shattered windows in buildings a mile away.
“The charred remains of bodies could be seen in the water-soaked parking lot,” New York Times reporters Dexter Filkins and Raymond Bonner reported from Baghdad. “Body parts were scattered, and fires burned inside cars.”
Witnesses said the Red Cross headquarters was lightly guarded.
“We always believed we were protected by the humanitarian work we do,” ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani told the Reuters news service.
The attack on the Baghdad ICRC offices is reportedly the first time the international relief agency has been targeted by a suicide bomber.
ICRC officials in Geneva said they would have to decide whether to continue operations in Iraq.
The death toll continued to rise Monday morning as an estimated 22 people were killed in three police station bombings, including one U.S. military policeman. Several Americans were reportedly wounded.
Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, said 26 of those killed and 159 of those wounded in Monday’s attacks were civilians.
Iraqi police reportedly shot and killed a fifth attacker outside an Iraqi police station before he could detonate his bomb. Iraqi police on the scene claimed the bomber was a Syrian national, the Washington Post reported.
Monday’s attacks reportedly came in quick succession with the first at around 8:30 a.m. and the last around 10:15 a.m. Monday also marked the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but coalition officials said it was not clear if there was a connection to the attacks.
Monday’s suicide bombings followed continued attacks on U.S. troops and personnel on Sunday.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday night when a roadside bomb detonated near a convoy of American trucks. Another U.S. soldier died in an overnight mortar attack on a prison complex near Baghdad.
On Sunday morning suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists used a homemade launcher disguised as a large generator to fire a missile barrage at the Al-Rashid Hotel, killing a senior U.S. military officer and wounding some 17 others. The Al-Rashid is the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and is often used by visiting U.S. officials. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, in Baghdad on an official visit, was in the hotel at the time, but was not injured in the attack.
The missile launcher was reportedly towed to an interchange 450 yards from the hotel where it was unhitched and positioned. Around 6 a.m. local time, eight to ten missiles were fired at the hotel.
President Bush said Monday that the United States would not be deterred from its mission in Iraq and blamed the attacks on a group of desperate Saddam Hussein loyalists.
“The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that’s available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become,” the president said during a meeting at the White House with the U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer.
“They hate freedom. They love terror,” Mr. Bush said of the attackers. “They love to try to create fear and chaos.”
Bremer said rebuilding efforts in Iraq had been successful and would go forward.
“The overall thrust is in the right direction and the good days outnumber the bad days,” Bremer said.
After Sunday’s attack Bremer said “as long as we are there, and we have this job of putting security back in place there, we will have people attacking us.”
Officials told reporters in Baghdad that they suspect the people behind the attacks are Saddam loyalists who want to convince the American government to withdraw its troops.