This morning Brian called in an update of three enormous blasts within minutes of each other that literally shook the Karrada neighborhood.
Around 5:15 Iraq time, a truck packed with explosives was detonated outside the Sheraton hotel where many foreign journalists and correspondents are staying. Minutes later two more explosions rang out and automatic weapons fired at the hotel and towards the large amount of police who had responded to the scene. Iraqi police warned journalists to “stay inside” and returned fire but it was unclear who was firing on them. The explosions, Brian would later find out from one of the policemen, were not from mortar but missiles fired directly at the hotel.
Between the blasts, the Guardian reported that between 11 and 20 people were killed in today’s blasts with many more injured. Although the attack was brief and the assailants apparently disappeared, the AP is reporting a possible plan of the attackers was to “take security control over the two hotels, and to take the foreign and Arab journalists as hostages to use them as a bargain.”
About ten minutes later a car exploded at a nearby checkpoint. The car failed to stop at a checkpoint area and soldiers opened fire in response. It’s still unclear whether it was a suicide bomber or if the soldier’s gunfire caused the car to explode.
Despite today’s turbulence, Brian is fine. Hopefully what I have here is mostly accurate; we were only able to speak a few minutes via sat phone before completely losing reception. Given that Baghdad still only has power intermittently, he will be following up with more detailed information of his firsthand account on what he’s seen as well as uploading pictures from the attack.
In other news, Brian has also done a fantastic interview with Hanna Ibrahim, director of the association “Women’s Will” which supports refugees and advocates for women’s rights in Iraq. We’ll be putting that video online very soon as well, as soon as we can get it from him. Please stay tuned.