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Bomb survivors bloodied, deafened

One victim of the bomb is treated at a Baghdad hospital.
One victim of the bomb is treated at a Baghdad hospital.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- The wounded were brought to Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital on Sunday morning, bloodied and bruised, confused and deafened by the huge blast which threw them to the ground as they walked to work.

At least 20 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew up his car outside the main U.S. headquarters in Baghdad.

The blast rattled windows several kilometers (miles) away in the center of the capital, set cars ablaze and sent smoke and the smell of gunpowder billowing into the sky.

A Reuters Television cameraman saw a woman lying in the road immediately after the blast, one foot blown off and a high heeled shoe still on the other. Other victims lay slumped on the kerb or in the middle of the road.

An Iraqi soldier helped lift a body from the street, pausing briefly as a gunshot rang out in the background.

About 20 of the injured were taken to Yarmouk, the nearest hospital, carried in on stretchers or in the arms of bystanders.

One man lay screaming as doctors stitched a cut in the side of his head. In the bed beside him, another man shook uncontrollably, his eyes half open as a doctor cleaned and bandaged his wounds.

Stretchers rattled through the hospital's stark corridors, the smell of disinfectant overpowering as doctors mopped up the blood.

"I can't hear you, I can't hear," cried Raqad Iyas Ibrahim, sitting on a bed with her head bandaged and blood congealing across her face.

"I saw a car, I really don't know what happened, I saw windows smashing, then I just fell. I don't know, I don't understand," she said, breaking down in sobs.

Insurgents fighting the U.S. occupation regularly target U.S. soldiers, as well as those they see as cooperating with the occupiers. It is often Iraqi civilians who are killed or wounded.

Sunday's bomber was in a queue of vehicles waiting to get into the U.S. headquarters, a complex protected by blast walls, barbed wire and checkpoints, when he exploded his car.

The main road outside, which at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) would have been full of cars and pedestrians heading to work, suffered most of the damage.

There are no official estimates of how many Iraqis have been killed since the war began. Iraq Body Count, an organization run by academics and peace activists, estimates that between 7,900 and 9,800 civilians have died.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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