A fourth explosion near the city’s police academy took place about two hours after the initial blasts, but no casualties were immediately reported.
British military spokesman Squadron leader Jonathan Arnold said the blasts that hit the police stations were believed to have been caused by car bombs. However, an Iraqi police colonel said that rocket attacks may have been to blame.
The attacks came a day after Iraqi leaders named a tribunal of judges and prosecutors to try Saddam Hussein, placing a longtime opponent of the ousted dictator in the forefront of the case against him and his former Baathist inner circle.
Cars and at least two school buses were seen destroyed outside the station in the Saudia district of Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. The interior of one of the school buses was burned out, the seats shredded.
More than 40 people were killed and at least 200 injured in the explosions, said Ali Hussein, an emergency physician at Basra’s main hospital. Dozens of bodies filled the morgue and in the hallways of Basra’s Educational Hospital, the city’s largest.
Another five dead and 36 injured were evacuated to a second hospital, Basra General Hospital, hospital officials said.