127 killed in series of Baghdad bombings

A SERIES of co-ordinated attacks struck Baghdad yesterday, including two suicide car bombers and another vehicle that blew up near government sites. At least 127 were killed and hundreds wounded, authorities said.

A total of five attacks, which also included a suicide car bomb on a police patrol, showed the ability of insurgents to strike high-profile targets in the heart of Baghdad and marked the third time since August that government buildings were targeted with multiple blasts that brought massive bloodshed.

The bombings reinforced concerns about shortcomings in Iraqi security as US forces plan their withdrawal, and parliament held an emergency session with many lawmakers demanding answers for apparent security lapses.

Iraq’s military spokesman blamed the carnage on an alliance of al-Qaida in Iraq and members of Saddam Hussein’s banned Baath Party.

The US military has sent some troops and forensic equipment to assist the Iraqis in the aftermath, said Army Master Sergeant Nicholas Conner, a military spokesman.

Overall violence has dropped sharply around Iraq in the past year, though insurgents have stepped up attacks at government sites in recent months.

The bombings marked the most serious spate of violence in Baghdad since twin car bombs on October 25 struck outside government offices, killing at least 155. In August, suicide bombers hit the finance and foreign ministries, killing more than 100.

Iraqi officials blamed the August and October attacks on al-Qaida in Iraq and loyalists of the Baath Party.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for yesterday’s attacks, though al-Qaida in Iraq had said it was behind the last two bombings against government buildings in Baghdad in August and October.

But there are questions whether Iraq’s leaders are trying to shift attention away from a possible resurgence of Sunni insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq.

A rise in insurgent power could be a serious blow to the government’s credibility before national elections, which were set yesterday for March 6.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs condemned the attacks, saying Iraqi leaders who recently passed an elections law were moving the country in the right direction and that “there are clearly those who are threatened by that”.

Again, Iraq’s military spokesman, Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, appeared yesterday to spread the blame between Baath loyalists and al-Qaida-linked extremists.

“The same hands that implemented the August and October attacks have carried out today’s terrorist attacks against innocent civilians,” he said.


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