11252014Tue

Series of bombings in Baghdad area kill dozens

The Associated Press

By By ADAM SCHRECK

BAGHDAD (AP) — Multiple car bombs exploded within minutes of each other as Iraqis were out shopping in and around Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 100 in mainly Shiite areas.

The attacks come amid rising sectarian discord in Iraq and appear aimed at shaking Iraqis' confidence in the Shiite-led government. The explosions struck at the start of the local work week and primarily targeted outdoor markets.

Violence in Iraq has fallen since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, but insurgents still frequently launch lethal attacks against security forces and civilians. It was at least the third time this month that attacks have claimed more than 20 lives in a single day.

The detonation of a parked car loaded with explosives in the sprawling Shiite district of Sadr City heralded the start of the attacks Sunday morning. Two more parked cars later exploded elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Nima Khadum, a government employee, said the blasts shattered the windows of his Sadr City house. He said the air was heavy with smoke, while burning cars littered the street and the bodies of the dead and wounded lay nearby.

"The scene was a bloody one that brought to my mind the painful memories of the violent past," he said. "I don't see the benefit of security checkpoints that only cause traffic jams and don't do anything to secure Baghdad. The government, with its failing security forces, bears full responsibility for the bloodshed today."

Simultaneous explosions hit the southeastern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Amin, where the force of the blasts left behind little except the mangled chassis of two cars that delivered their payloads.

An open-air market in Husseiniya, just northeast of the capital, and the Kamaliya area in Baghdad's eastern suburbs were also hit.

Another car bomb exploded near street vendors and a police car in the central commercial district of Karradah.

Police and hospital officials provided the death toll, and said more than 130 people were wounded. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief reporters.

Casualties could have been even higher. Authorities carried out controlled explosions of two other car bombs they discovered in Husseiniya and Habibiya, near Sadr City, according to police.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but similar ones have been orchestrated by Sunni extremists, such as al-Qaida's local affiliate. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, favors large-scale, coordinated attacks. It considers Shiite Muslims to be heretics and accuses them of being too closely aligned with neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran.

As sectarian strife mounts, protesters drawn overwhelmingly from Iraq's Sunni community have been staging weekly demonstrations and sit-ins since late December to rally against the government, which is led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The protesters have rejected calls for violence and distance themselves from extremist groups such as al-Qaida.

There are also concerns that Sunni insurgents could step up attacks ahead of provincial elections scheduled for April 20. The ballot would be the first country-wide vote since the U.S. troop withdrawal more than a year ago.

The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, quickly condemned the attacks and said "all Iraqi leaders have a responsibility to stand up against these atrocious crimes."

The blasts came a day after a suicide bomber pretending to ask for help assassinated Brig. Gen. Ali Aouni, the head of the Iraq Defense Ministry's intelligence academy, and three of his bodyguards in the northern city of Tal Afar.

Sunday's attacks brought to more than 100 the number of people killed in violent attacks in Iraq since the start of the month. A total of 178 were killed in January attacks, according to an Associated Press count.

___

Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad contributed to this report.

Search

Act of Cowardice

Iran's ruling tyrants have executed yet another political prisoner in flagrant violation of international law.  READ MORE

The rush to Tehran amidst rise in executions

World leaders should halt these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.  READ MORE

Arming a dictator

What if President Obama ordered the sale of arms to Syrian dictator to massacre his opponents? READ MORE

Slaughter intensifies under Rouhani

231 executions have occurred since the presidential election in June which brought to power Hassan Rouhani. READ MORE

Silence is not the answer

Iran: Bloody crackdown targeting dissidents aims at terrorizing the people into submission. READ MORE

Iran’s Murder Machine

The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine. READ MORE

What now?

The West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the winning strategy. READ MORE

A facelift

This cosmetic facelift should not dupe the West into thinking that there are fresh prospects for a nuclear deal. READ MORE

An Act of Cowardice

The terrorist attack against Iranian exiles at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another sign of Iranian regime's weakness. READ MORE

Much atalk about nothing

In Istanbul they merely agreed to talk about talking later in May in Baghdad, of all places. READ MORE

An unholy alliance

The brutal state-imposed bloodbath in Syria deserves uncompromising reproach. READ MORE

Iran cries for freedom

The clerical regime in Iran has predictably unleashed another wave of terror against the citizenry since the outburst of the latest string of mass protests beginning on 14 February. READ MORE

A new Iran policy

The latest round of nuclear talks had an all-too-familiar result: more time for Tehran and less time for the international community to prevent a nuclear-armed theocracy. READ MORE

Murder overlooked

What would the rest of us do if a mad gunman was in our midst, systematically murdering our fellow human beings in front of our eyes? The responsible amongst us would not look the other way, because that would serve as a source of encouragement for the murderers to carry on with their heinous acts unchecked. READ MORE

Standing up to Iran's executioners

The Iranian regime's malicious noose has yet again taken an innocent life. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, 63, was hanged in Tehran's infamous Evin prison after a lifetime of peacefully espousing human rights and democracy. READ MORE