The suicide bomb attacks across Baghdad on Monday were frightening for their precision, co-ordination and intent. The near-simultaneous blasts killed 43 and made Monday the bloodiest day in Iraq since the United States declared a formal end to the fighting on May 1. Worst of all, the attacks targeted police stations and the building that is occupied by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), the Geneva-based agency whose neutrality has been the key to its ability to offer humanitarian aid in war zones all over the world. The Red Cross maintained its presence in Iraq as the United Nations-approved sanctions brought economic and political isolation during the 1990s. Its presence there now, and that of the Iraqi police, are among the reasons for recent optimism that stability can be brought to Iraq. Sadly, both groups are being targeted as collaborators with, and adjuncts to, a largely unpopular US-led occupying coalition. To the ICRC's credit, the group has vowed to stay in Iraq, even if it reduces the number of staff working there. Similarly difficult decisions have faced other aid groups, including Medicins Sans Frontieres and the UN, since before the fighting began this spring. This summer's attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad forced it to re-examine its commitment, and this week's attacks will surely do the same. It can only be hoped that these groups will find a way to continue their work while protecting the safety of their staff. With their commitments in Madrid last week to send about US$13 billion in reconstruction aid to Iraq, the nations of the world have shown that they want to see the country get back on its feet. But the donor conference must be seen only as a beginning to a process that will put a more multilateral face on the reconstruction efforts. The involvement of Iraq's Arab neighbours and a reduction of the debt the nation incurred while Saddam Hussein was in power will be needed. The US, for its part, must make it a priority to hand control over to the UN and the Iraqi people. Recently appointed Iraqi government ministers made a strong showing at Madrid and now must be allowed to come out of the shadows of the occupation forces. Monday's attacks, and the attacks experienced by American troops since Monday's blasts, are indications of how urgently these steps are needed.