Two vehicles crashed the gate of the Italian military headquarters Wednesday in Nasiriya, Iraq, and one exploded, killing at least 22 people, coalition and Iraqi hospital officials said.
The blast killed 14 Italian troops, according to coalition and Italian officials. Italian police in Rome said that 11 Italian military police and three army soldiers died and seven Italians were wounded.
Iraqi hospital sources told CNN that at least eight Iraqis also died. There was no immediate information on the number of Iraqis wounded.
The blast leveled the building, and Italian defense officials said they expect the death toll to rise because some people are reportedly trapped under rubble. (Berlusconi defiant about Iraq)
A car had a detonator and was loaded with explosives, but it wasn’t clear whether a truck also was carrying explosives, defense officials said.
The Ministry of Defense said there are 2,500 Italians based in Iraq.
The blast occurred in the wake of a CIA report warning that security problems in Iraq will worsen.