The suicide attackers targeted the Sheik Murad mosque and the Khaniqin Grand Mosque - both homes to Shiite Muslims - in Khanaqin, 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Baghdad, as dozens of people were attending Friday prayers, police said.
The police command said 74 people were killed and 75 injured in the largely Kurdish town. The blast near the Hamra hotel in Baghdad knocked down the blast walls protecting the hotel and blew out windows, but did no structural damage.
“What we have here appears to be two suicide car bombs (that) attempted to breach the security wall in the vicinity of the hotel complex and I think the target was the Hamra Hotel,” U.S. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst told reporters at the scene.
The blasts - less than a minute apart - reverberated throughout the city center, sent a mushroom cloud hundreds of feet into the air and was followed by sporadic small arms fire.
At first the target appeared to be an Interior Ministry building nearby where U.S. Troops found about 170 detainees, some of whom appeared to be tortured.
Several residential buildings collapsed from the blast, which gouged a large crater in the road. Firefighters and U.S. troops joined neighbors to dig through the debris and under toppled blast barriers to pull victims from the rubble.
It would be the second attack against a hotel housing international journalists since the Oct. 24 triple vehicle bomb attack against the Palestine Hotel, where The Associated Press, Fox News and other organizations live and work.
"What we have here appears to be two suicide car bombs (that) attempted to breach the security wall in the vicinity of the hotel complex, and I think the target was the Hamra Hotel,” U.S. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst told reporters at the scene.
The blasts, which came less than a minute apart, echoed throughout downtown Baghdad, producing a towering cloud of smoke. They were followed by gunfire.