BAGHDAD, March 26 — Shards of corrugated tin dangled from roofs like chimes, colliding on the winds of a savage sandstorm. Shattered pipes poured sewage into the streets. The charred carcasses of cars sat smoldering, hurled onto the sidewalk.
Ali Abdel-Jabbar watched helplessly as his friend, Mohammed Abdel-Sattar, lay on the ground, his legs torn off. He lived. Across the street was the severed hand of Samad Rabai, tossed gracelessly in a pool of blood and mud. He died.
In a moment, two explosions transformed a busy stretch of life today into a junkyard of mangled wires, uprooted trees, toppled lights, anguish and grief.
Iraqi officials said at least 14 people were killed and 30 injured in the blasts — a count that matched hospital estimates — in the biggest loss of civilian life in Baghdad since U.S. and British air attacks began last week. The explosions devastated a 100-yard swath of shops, homes and a restaurant in the working-class neighborhood of Shaab, on Baghdad’s northern outskirts.
Pentagon officials denied responsibility for the bombing, saying there were no U.S. targets near the neighborhood. But U.S. military officials in Qatar said that U.S. aircraft targeting Iraqi surface-to-air missile launchers in a residential area in Baghdad had fired precision-guided weapons at about the same time as the bombing, possibly causing civilian damage.
In the Shaab neighborhood, the carnage spoke of the helplessness and dread that has enveloped the capital.
“Who accepts this?” shouted George Said, a mechanic whose store was littered with spilled oil, a door torn from its hinges onto the floor. “Does America like this, does Bush like this, do the American people like this? How can they accept the destruction?”