Series of bombs kills 74 and injures 250 in Iraq
The bombs were detonated yesterday in largely Shia Muslim areas of the country. Casualties were mostly Shia-led security forces. A Sunni extremist group, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, was blamed.
A jihadist site praised the attacks and said they targeted “Shias, Christians and the apostate awakening councils”, in reference to the US-backed Sunni groups who turned on al-Qaeda in 2007.
Thirteen bombs exploded in all, many of which were apparently detonated by suicide bombers. If so, this would further undermine Iraqi and US military claims that al-Qaeda and its Iraqi jihadist groups are a spent force after almost a decade of war.
The deadliest blast was in the southeastern city of Kut, where 37 people were killed by a roadside bomb and then a car bomb, which detonated as bystanders gathered following the first explosion.
In the Shia shrine cities of Kerbala and Najaf, up to 11 security officers and members of the public were killed by car bombs. Bombs rocked Baquba, Tikrit and Kirkuk and there were at least six explosions in Baghdad, although only three people were killed in the capital.
The ease with which car bombs are moved around Iraq is a further blow to the standing of Iraq’s security forces, who insist they have contained sectarian violence and have Sunni and Shia extremist groups under control.
An attack on a similar scale took place during Ramadan last year and Iraq’s dwindling Christian community was subsequently targeted in churches and in their homes. This spring, more than 50 people were killed in an attack on the Tikrit governor’s office. Targeted assassinations have been common in Baghdad, Baquba and Kirkuk.
Despite monthly death tolls now being sharply below those during the sectarian war of 2006-07, spasms of large-scale violence still occur quite frequently in Iraq, a fact that convinced some local politicians to ask departing US forces to remain after the mandated end of their mission in December.
However, Shia extremist groups, including the Sadrist party, which has 39 seats in Iraq’s 325-seat parliament, have vowed to violently oppose any troop extension.
Militias killed at least 12 US soldiers in June in a series of rocket and roadside bomb attacks widely interpreted as an attempt to create the impression that troops were being forced to flee.
Aug. 16, 2011