Baghdad car bomb wreckage brings modern warfare to London

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The wreckage of a car bomb which ripped apart the intellectual heart of Baghdad went on display in London on Thursday as chilling evidence of the impact modern-day conflicts have on civilians.

The buckled and burnt heap of metal was salvaged from the March 5, 2007 attack on the historic Mutanabi Street book market.

The blast killed at leaest 30 people, leaving body parts scattered among the burning books, and was viewed as an assault on Baghdad's cultural life.

The car is being presented at the Imperial War Museum, surrounded by some of the most powerful military hardware of the past 100 years.

The exhibition, named "Baghdad, 5 March 2007", reflects that at the start of the 20th century, 10 percent of all casualties in conflict were civilians; the figure now stands at 90 percent.

During its time on display, the car will be the focus for a series of open conversations about the conflict in Iraq.

It is being presented by Jeremy Deller, the 2004 winner of Britain's Turner Prize, one of the world's most controversial modern art awards. It has already been exhibited in New York.

"It's unusual to see anything from the conflict in Iraq 'in life' so I was interested in being able to show this car to the public, initially in the US and now the UK," he said.

"I couldn't think of a better home for it in this country."

IWM director-general Diane Lees added: "We hope 'Baghdad, 5 March 2007' will prove a thought-provoking addition to our permanent collections and encourage visitors to consider not just this car, but all our exhibits, in a new light."

Mutanabi Street is an ancient centre of learning and culture and a rare diversion for the capital's war-weary citizens.

Iraqis regard Baghdad's oldest book market -- crammed with bookshops and frequented by writers, poets and artists -- as one of the most important centres in the literary world.

It was opened in 1932 by king Faisal II, and is named after Arab poet Abu Taib al-Mutanabi.

© 2010 AFP

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