"Four landmark Baghdad hotels were heavily damaged by car bombs this afternoon in the fourth co-ordinated attack on prominent targets as Iraq readies for an increasingly fraught election.
Security officials said at least 36 people were killed and more than 80 injured by attackers, including suicide bombers and gunmen.
The blasts took place around the same time as the execution of one of Saddam Hussein's most infamous henchman, Ali Hassan al-Majid, otherwise known as Chemical Ali. The timing raised fresh fears that former Ba'athists had launched the campaign in a bid to destabilise the government ahead of the poll.
The first bomb was detonated in between the Sheraton and Palestine hotels in the centre of the capital, causing massive damage to both well-known structures. Around three minutes later, the Babylon hotel on the banks of the Tigris river, just south of the US Embassy, was hit by a suicide bomber driving a car past the perimeter barriers. Damage was also reported to be severe."