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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wave of attacks kills dozens amid Iraq's upheaval

bomb attack in baghdad
Bomb Attack in Baghdad
Baghdad (CNN) -- A wave of explosions in Baghdad Thursday killed at least 63 people and wounded 185, authorities say, raising fears about the stability of the country amid political upheaval that threatens to undo Iraq's government just days after U.S. troops withdrew from the country.

Nine car bombs and six roadside bombs went off and a mortar round was fired in a two-hour period, targeting residential, commercial and government districts in the Iraqi capital, two police officials told CNN.

The deadliest attack was a suicide car bombing outside the offices of the Integrity Commission, the country's main anti-corruption body. At least 23 people were killed and 43 others were wounded in the explosion, which also damaged part of the building, police officials said.

The attacks targeted civilians across all walks of life. One took place at a market. Another, at a school as children were arriving.

CNN's Arwa Damon in Baghdad described it as a "nightmare scenario," eerily reminiscent of earlier days of the Iraq war.

The violence comes as Iraq's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political leaders square off over a warrant issued for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is accused of organizing his security detail into a death squad that targeted government and military officials.

Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has demanded that Kurdish lawmakers hand over the Sunni vice president, who has denied the charges and refuses to return to Baghdad from northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi told CNN he does not believe the violence is directly connected to the latest political developments, "but there is a good environment for terrorists to be active in these bad circumstances."

Terrorists "will justify their criminal activities" and argue that the solution to Iraq's woes "isn't in the political process," said al-Issawi, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya minority political bloc.

The seemingly coordinated explosions Thursday struck during the height of morning rush hour, hitting a number of Baghdad's primarily mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods.

There have been no immediate claims of responsibility, though the attacks resemble previous bombings that have been claimed by both Sunni and Shiite insurgents as well as al Qaeda in Iraq.

At the Medical City hospital in central Baghdad, doctors treated the wounded whose bodies were peppered with what appeared to be shrapnel from explosions.

Images of bloodied, battered bodies and destroyed storefronts and homes were broadcast on Iraqi television stations.

While violence in Iraq has fallen off in recent years, the latest spate of attacks are among the worst since August when a series of coordinated bombings killed at least 75 people in 17 Iraqi cities.

The attacks come amid heightened sectarian tensions, raising fears that the political turmoil in Iraq could spark a return of sectarian bloodshed that nearly ripped the country apart during the height of the war.

Al-Hashimi has denied the charges against him, saying the accusations are politically motivated amid the rivalry between his Sunni-backed Iraqiya minority political bloc and al-Maliki's Shiite majority bloc.

The warrant for al-Hashimi's arrest was issued just days after Iraqiya suspended its participation in Parliament, claiming it was being cut out of the political process by al-Maliki.

The prime minister has said failing to hand over al-Hashimi or allowing him to flee to another country "could cause problems."

Al-Issawi, the finance minister, told CNN that before U.S. troops left, Iraqi officials made clear their fears of what could happen.

"So many times we warned the Americans, both the political and security situation (are) very fragile. Unfortunately, no one listened."

In a speech this month about bringing the U.S. troops home, President Barack Obama said, "Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. "

"There can be no fuller expression of America's support for self-determination than our leaving Iraq to its people. That says something about who we are," Obama added.

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2 comments:

  1. Very sad matter, But happy to know the news.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really very sad matter but what can we do ?

    ReplyDelete