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Twin Bombings in Baghdad Mark Upsurge in Attacks

DATE: 00-9:00 PM


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.



And I'm Melissa Block. More than 20 people were killed in today's almost simultaneous bombings in the heart of Baghdad. Iraq's insurgents have stepped up attacks over the past few days. U.S. and Iraqi officials say the increase in violence is linked to the coming announcement of the final results of last month's elections.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro joins us now for the latest on that and the situation with Jill Carroll, the American reporter who's being held captive. And, Lourdes, first, tell us, please, about these simultaneous, or almost simultaneous bombings today in Baghdad.

LOURDES GARCIA: Well, it was a double bombing. It happened near the center of town, near a bridge that leads to the Green Zone, which is the seat of Iraqi government power and also where the U.S. Embassy is located. As many as two dozen people were killed.

It seems that a device was placed underneath a car that was targeting an Iraqi police patrol and another device exploded inside a coffee shop. We don't know whether that was carried by a suicide bomber or not. But these attacks come ahead of the election results, which are expected to be delivered tomorrow.


BLOCK: Now, there was a report that came out today from international monitors who observed that election. What did they have to say?

GARCIA: The international monitoring group came here to review how Iraq's elections were handled. They issued a 10-page report, and it says that there were numerous instances of fraud, but they really don't question the final result, and so there won't be a revote, for example, in any area. It was a pretty cautious report all in all.

The Sunnis were the ones who wanted these results to be checked, by and large, and they have responded with some anger. But most of these groups are already in negotiations about joining a unity government. So we're not really expecting to see any major changes to the election results, which will be, again, delivered tomorrow.

BLOCK: And finally let's turn to the situation with Jill Carroll, the American journalist who's being held hostage. Her mother, Mary Beth Carroll, spoke on television today, and let's listen to a little bit of what she had to say about her daughter's work in Iraq.

MARY BETH CARROLL: She knew what she was doing. She knew what the dangers were. She knew what the risks were. And she chose, she chose to accept those, because of what she was doing to communicate to the world the sufferings of the Iraqi people.

BLOCK: That was Mary Beth Carroll, that's Jill Carroll's mother, speaking on CNN. And, Lourdes, I understand that Arab television has broadcast more video footage of Jill Carroll.

GARCIA: That's right. Al-Jazeera television, which showed the first tape of Jill Carroll earlier this week, broadcast a second excerpt of the very same tape. This time, it showed her seated on the ground. She was surrounded by three masked men carrying guns. One of the men seemed to be issuing a statement, but there was no audio on the tape.

BLOCK: Jill Carroll's captors had been demanding that Iraqi women prisoners who are in U.S. custody be released. What's been happening with that demand?

GARCIA: Well, the deadline her kidnappers have given is tomorrow. They're saying that they want all Iraqi female prisoners to be released. The Americans have said that there are eight women being held in detention centers at the moment.

Now, the Iraqis have said that six of these women are due to be released unrelated to the fact of the demands of Jill Carroll's kidnappers. The Americans responded that they're not expecting these women to be released any time soon, so there's a bit of back and forth going on as to whether these people will be released or won't be released. But both sides do say that it is unrelated to Jill Carroll's kidnapping.

There have been numerous calls for Jill Carroll's release. They've come from all sectors and sects of the major groups here in Iraq. And we are expecting tomorrow an American Muslim group to make their way to Baghdad and issue an appeal on behalf of her and her family and American Muslims to have her released as soon as possible.

BLOCK: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad. Lourdes, thanks very much.

GARCIA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.