Haider Nouri's body twitched like a fish washed up on a beach as his muscles flexed against his will. He grimaced in pain on a cot at Kindi Hospital in the capital. His skin, ripped and bleeding, was the chocolate color of burned flesh.
Nouri, 17, had been heading to a market to buy a blanket when a bomb went off at a church near the New Baghdad district in the eastern section of Baghdad, one of four blasts in the city targeting Christians attending evening Mass on Sunday. One church in the northern city of Mosul also was bombed.
Eleven people were killed and 47 wounded in the bombings, according to the U.S. military, in a country where Christians and Muslims have lived in peace for decades.
"I didn't think I'd face hell because of a blanket," said Nouri, who is Muslim. "They want to start a civil war. I swear to God, they can't. We'll have many sacrifices from now on, but they won't succeed."
A doctor came in and started to cut off Nouri's burned skin. His cries of pain carried through a newly rehabilitated emergency room. His brother reached for his left hand to comfort him, but Nouri recoiled in agony.
Dhia Hadi, a doctor at the hospital, said six wounded people, three with burns, had been brought to the hospital, and that one later died. Hadi then turned away to care for a patient.
At the Ibn-Nafees Hospital, police said 16 victims arrived by ambulance. One of the victims, a man whose left arm was blown off, died while he was being treated for his injuries, said Sgt. Hasan Abdul Hadi, an Iraqi police officer.
In the emergency room, Violet Polis, 72, shared a cot with her granddaughter. Both were injured in an explosion at one of the churches, the Lady of Salvation, an Assyrian Catholic church in the Karrada district of Baghdad.
Polis's forehead and hand were bandaged, and blood seeped through gauze on her neck. She clutched her hands together, while her daughter caressed her feet, one of which was bandaged and bleeding.
"I was lining up to take the Eucharist," Polis said, meaning the sacrament of Holy Communion. "I thought I was facing God when it happened. A big explosion shocked the church, and the colored glass rained down on people. I kept shouting and shouting, 'God, your mercy, God, your mercy!' "
Polis said about 500 people were in the church when the bomb went off.
"We were all terrified and panicked," she said. "We were mobbing to get out, and the priest was shouting for us to be quiet."
Polis said the bomber could not have been an Iraqi. "He's not Iraqi, who did this. Never! Iraqis like each other. Those are people from outside who want to create chaos in the country," she said, adding defiantly, "We'll not give them a chance."
Her husband, Fareed Bashouri, 72, stood nearby, trembling so violently that he moved to her bed and sat down to steady himself. Bashouri, a translator for the U.S. Army, was not injured, but his gray trousers and white shirt were splattered with blood.
"If things are going to be like this, if they're going to target churches and Christians, it will be something else," he said. "The government has to think about that seriously. It's like they created the strife between Shiite and Sunni. They want to create it between Muslims and Christians, but there's no chance. They have to understand that this is Iraq, and we are all Iraqis."
At the church where Polis was injured, Ali Hazem surveyed the site and said he could not believe what he had witnessed. Hazem, a resident of Mosul, said he had come to Baghdad with his family to look for an apartment because they wanted to escape the violence there. He and his brothers had just returned to their room when they were shaken by the blast across the street.
"The people who want to do the suicide bombs and car bombs want to destroy the Iraqi people and create problems between the Christians and the Muslim people," said Hazem, standing outside in his pajama shorts and slippers, as the sun set and a bright moon rose above the city. "They are not Muslim."
"They are not Iraqi people," said Ali Abass, who also came to look at the damage. "They are from the outside. They hate Iraqi people." In the street, the wreckage of a car smoldered, black smoke rising from twisted metal.
Dawod Salman, who had helped carry the wounded to ambulances, walked by the scene. His clothes were spattered with blood. "All the people think Saddam's followers cause these problems in Iraq," he said, referring to the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. "But Saddam's followers stay home because they are afraid of the Americans. The Americans are responsible for this."
Special correspondents Bassam Sebti, Luma Mousawi and Omar Fekeiki contributed to this report.