BAGHDAD, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Up to 21 people were killed and some 50 wounded in a series of car bombings and shootings in central the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday, an Interior Ministry source said.
"Our latest report said that 21 people were killed, including seven policemen, while some 50 wounded, including 15 policemen, by the blasts and gunmen attacks in downtown Baghdad," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The attacks took place around 1:00 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) within five minutes when gunmen blew up three car bombs and another believed to be a suicide bombing near some government buildings in downtown the capital, the source said.
One of the car bombs was close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and another went off outside the nearby building of the Telecommunication institute in Alawi district, while the third car bomb ripped through the area near the Ministry of Culture, a few hundred meters away from the Ministry of Justice in the district of a-Salhiyah, the source added.
The car bombings were apparently made to distort the attention of the security forces to pave the way for gunmen with a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest to enter the Justice Ministry building, but the Iraqi security forces fought them back, the source said.
The suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the Justice Ministry, when the soldiers opened fire on him, while the other attackers managed to enter the four-story building, he said.
"When the explosions and shootings occurred, the guards of the building evacuated the ministry employees from the back door, while a fierce clash erupted inside the building," the source said.
The Iraqi security forces blocked the roads leading to the area, while an Iraqi Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) force stormed the building and killed at least three gunmen in the second floor, the source added without giving further details.
"The situation is completely under control," the source said.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but al-Qaida front in Iraq frequently claimed the responsibility of most deadly attacks in the country, raising fears that the terrorist group could return to widespread violence.
Violence and sporadic high-profile bomb attacks are still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.