Here is the brief update. There is confusion over the number of casualties. The number reported by the US Military is nearly the same number we received from an Iraqi Police (IP) officer who was involved in firing on the second vehicle, which exploded near the Mosque in Firdos Square. He claimed there were approximately 4 killed and 16 wounded at that time.
The assertion that the attack was intended to take over the Palestine Hotel was not substantiated by any of the IPs or PSDs (private security) who we spoke with that were on the scene. He believed this attack to be similar to previous attacks, where the first bomb is intended to bring IPs and other security forces, and subsequent bombings are used to inflict mass casualties on the response teams.
Despite the loud gunfire long after the attack, no gunmen other than the IPs were reported to be in the streets. One BBC colleague reported to me that, “The Iraqi Police tend to be quite trigger-happy.” Also, my fixer overheard an IP shouting “Be careful they are shooting everyone.” We now believe “they” almost certainly means other IPs, although we don’t have a first-hand report of IPs firing on each other.
There is still some confusion over the carbombings. We received an eyewitness report from a PSD that the first car was a Black Jeep Cherokee, it now appears this may have been the second vehicle, as the AP reports the first car was a white vehicle.
Here is a short video of what it was like in an area near Firdos Square for a few hours after the bombing.