Bombs striking Shiite neighbourhoods, security forces and other targets across Iraq killed at least 26 people today.
It was the latest round of co-ordinated violence to take a sectarian bent and undermine confidence in the beleaguered government.
The deadliest attack came in the town of Taji, a former al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad, where three explosive-rigged cars went off within minutes of each other. Police said eight people died and 28 were injured in the back-to-back blasts.
In all, at least 94 people were wounded in the wave of attacks that stretched from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in Iraq’s north to the southern Shiite town of Kut.
Car bombs are a hallmark of al Qaida in Iraq. The Sunni militant network has vowed to take back areas of the country, like Taji, from which it was pushed before US troops withdrew last December.
Shiite lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, a member of parliament’s security and defence committee, said the attacks were a sign al Qaida “is still in business”.
He said a deadly weekend prison break in Tikrit in which many al Qaida-linked convicts escaped, is likely to have boosted the terror network’s morale and spurred today’s assault.
“Al-Qaida leaders have no intention of leaving this country or letting Iraqis live in peace,” al-Zamili said. “Thus, we should expect more attacks in the near future. The situation in Iraq is still unstable ... and repetition of such attacks shows that our security forces are still unqualified to deal with the terrorists,” he added.
Shortly after the Taji attacks, police said a suicide bomber set off his explosives-packed car in the Shiite neighbourhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad. One person was killed and seven wounded.
And in Baghdad’s bustling Karradah neighbourhood, a parked car laden with explosives went off next to a police patrol, killing a police officer and a civilian, other officials said. Eight other people were injured. The blast was followed minutes later by another parked car bomb as people gathered, killing three civilians and injuring 12 others, they added. Secondary bomb blasts targeting those coming to help the wounded are a common insurgent tactic.
Elsewhere in the country, another suicide bomber drove a minibus into a security checkpoint in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. Three police officers were killed and five wounded.
And in Iraq’s north, another policeman was killed when security forces were trying to defuse a car bomb parked on the main highway between the cities of Kirkuk and Tuz Khormato.
Mid-morning another parked car bomb went off next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in the town of Madain, killing three Iraqis and injuring 11 others including seven Iranians.
In the town of Balad Ruz, northeast of Baghdad, a parked car bomb targeted a passing police patrol, killing two policemen and injuring seven others.
In the nearby town of Khan Bani Saad, another parked car bomb exploded near a market and killed one civilian and injured nine others, they added.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed in the town of Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, when their patrol hit a roadside bomb.