03/17/04 — Iraq explosion

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Iraq explosion

By Wire
Published in News on March 17, 2004 2:07 PM

As many as 10 killed in Baghdad hotel explosion

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A large explosion destroyed a hotel in central Baghdad today, and rescuers pulled bodies from the rubble. Witnesses said it was a bomb blast.

Two U.S. soldiers tried to help pull bodies from the wreckage, but angry Iraqis pushed them back. Flames shot skyward, and heavy smoke rose behind Baghdad's central square. Trees were on fire, and flames jumped to nearby buildings. Eight cars were on fire, and one vehicle was hurled by the blast into a store.

Ambulances raced to the scene.

The explosion occurred behind Firdaus Square, where a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was felled April 9 with the help of U.S. Marines who had just entered the center of the Iraqi capital.

The area of the blast, Karrada, is a mix of residential and commercial buildings.

The blast shook the nearby Palestine Hotel, where many foreign contractors and journalists are based.