Gunmen, bombs target Iraq central bank, killing 15

BAGHDAD Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:07pm EDT

1 of 5. Smoke rises from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad June 13, 2010. Twelve people were killed on Sunday when gunmen detonated a bomb outside Iraq's central bank and battled with security forces from the rooftops in what officials said could be a raid on the bank's vaults.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Ameen

Related Topics

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Fifteen people were killed and dozens wounded Sunday when suicide bombers detonated at least one bomb at Iraq's central bank and gunmen battled troops in what officials said may have been a raid on the vaults.

The attack occurred as bank employees were leaving work, sending a thick plume of smoke over Baghdad after the bank's generator was set ablaze.

Security sources gave conflicting accounts of what actually happened, and some said the attackers had been disguised in military uniforms -- a tactic not uncommon in Iraq.

Soldiers and police locked down Baghdad's main arteries, with the capital on high alert for the first session of Iraq's new parliament Monday after a March election that has yet to yield a government.

Troops came under fire from gunmen as they surrounded the bank in case the initial bombing was part of a plan to plunder stockpiles of Iraqi dinars and U.S. dollars, said Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi.

"It's not clear to us whether this was a robbery or an attempt to cause destruction," said Moussawi. "But we can definitely say they targeted the central bank."

Interior Ministry sources said 15 people were killed and 45 wounded. Moussawi told state television there were also four suicide bombers and three gunmen, all of whom were killed. One Interior Ministry source said dozens of attackers in military uniforms were involved and most escaped.

A central bank official, who asked not to be identified, said security forces had ordered all employees and civilians to stay inside while helicopters hovered over the site.

"The security forces warned us that if anyone moves, they will shoot them," the official said. "They let us out after they checked our badges."

"This was a robbery," he said.

RECENT ROBBERIES

Recent weeks have seen a spurt of deadly gold market robberies and attacks by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents as tensions simmer following the inconclusive March election.

Many of the groups that took up arms after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein have turned to crime as the sectarian war and al Qaeda-led insurgency fade. Gunmen killed 14 people on May 25 in a raid on Baghdad goldsmiths and three on June 9 in an attack on a gold market in southern Basra.

The attackers did not gain entry to the central bank's main building but were driven to the rooftops of neighboring buildings within its fortified compound, the bank official said.

Overall violence in Iraq has fallen sharply since the height of sectarian bloodshed in 2006/07. But Sunni Islamist insurgents have sought to exploit the political uncertainty that followed the March 7 election through bombings and assassinations.

The number of civilians killed in violence each month has climbed slowly but steadily since the March vote.

A cross-sectarian alliance heavily backed by the once dominant Sunni minority won the most seats, but the main Shi'ite factions have agreed to form the largest unified bloc in parliament, potentially giving them the muscle to claim the right to form a government.

It is likely to still take weeks if not months for a deal on a government, potentially leaving Iraq rudderless as the U.S. military ends combat operations in August ahead of a full troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Michael Christie and Matthew Robinson; Editing by Matthew Jones)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
freetheenk wrote:
Wow! Blowing up a central bank? Is this the start of a new trend, maybe? People, please don’t blow up central banks. They are our friends. Without them we wouldn’t have anyone to print trading notes inflation/deflation cycles. The central banks love us. Don’t kill the central bankers!

Jun 13, 2010 12:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Amomani wrote:
Imported Jews must to go back home to where they were brought from by the Zionists, they can fight for their rights there instead of trying to steal the Palestinian land. The Zionists created a myth that the Romans kicked the Jews out of Palestine and now they are coming back home!. In fact European Jews are Ashkenazi (east Europeans – converted Jews) with absolutely no link to Palestine or any place in the Middle-east.

The original Jews have never left the region, they remained living in peace in their own land in the Arab World and Muslim World (Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, etc.) until the Zionists disturbed the peace with their propaganda. Imported Jews must go back to their countries of origin so the legitimate owners (Palestinian Refugees)of the land (Palestine) can go back to it!!!

Jun 13, 2010 1:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.