At least 107 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks in Iraq yesterday, a day after 20 died in explosions, in a coordinated surge of violence against mostly Shiite Muslim targets.
The bloodshed, which coincided with an intensifying of the conflict in Syria, demonstrated the deficiencies of the Iraqi security forces, which failed to prevent insurgents from striking in multiple locations across the country.
As well as the scores of deaths, at least 268 people were wounded by bombings and shootings in Shiite areas of Baghdad, the Shiite town of Taji to the north, the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul and many other places, hospital and police sources said, making it one of Iraq’s bloodiest days in weeks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the wave of assaults, but a senior Iraqi security official blamed the local wing of al-Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim militants bitterly hostile to the Shiite-led government, which is friendly with Iran.
“Recent attacks are a clear message that al-Qaeda in Iraq is determined to spark a bloody sectarian war,” the official said, asking not to be named.
“With what’s going on in Syria, these attacks should be taken seriously as a potential threat to our country. Al-Qaeda is trying to push Iraq to the verge of Shiite-Sunni war,” he said. “They want things to be as bad as in Syria.”
The last two days of attacks shattered a two-week lull in violence in the run-up to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started in Iraq on Saturday.
Sectarian slaughter peaked in 2006 and 2007, but deadly attacks have persisted, while political tensions among Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions have increased since US troops completed their withdrawal in December last year.
“I ask the government if security forces are capable of keeping control,” a man named Ahmed Salim shouted angrily at the scene of a car bomb in Kirkuk.
“With all these bloody bombs and innocent people killed, the government should reconsider its security plans,” he said.