Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed a wave of bombings targeting Shiite areas of Baghdad that killed at least 21 people on Sunday.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) carried out the attacks “in revenge for alleged criminal acts by the Shiite-led government in Sunnis areas of the capital,” said the SITE monitoring service, which tracks extremist Internet forums.
Three car bombs struck the sprawling Sadr City slum in the north of the city, car bombs exploded in Ameen, al-Husseiniyah and Kamaliyah in the east, and a roadside bomb blew up in Karrada in central Baghdad, security and medics there said.
Another roadside device went off in Saidiyah in the capital’s south.
Al-Qaeda’s front group is widely seen as weaker than during the peak of Iraq’s sectarian bloodshed from 2006 to 2008, but is still capable of carrying out mass-casualty attacks on a regular basis.
Residents of Sadr City were enraged by the bombings, and hospitals in the area were quickly crowded with people searching for relatives.
“What did we do? We’re always the victims of conflicts between politicians,” one woman shouted.
The carnage could have been even worse.
The Baghdad Operations Command, which is responsible for security in the capital, said in a statement that security forces defused a total of six car bombs, including three in Sadr City.
Heavy security measures were put in place after the Sadr City attacks, with some areas closed off.
Gunmen also carried out two attacks in north Iraq on Sunday, killing a police captain in front of his home in Mosul and shooting dead a soccer player and wounding two others near Kirkuk, security and medical officials said.
The attacks brought the number of people killed in violence this month to at least 158, according to an Agence France-Presse tally based on reports from security and medical officials nationwide.
The Baghdad bombings followed multiple attacks on Saturday that killed five people, including the head of Iraq’s intelligence academy.
Two suicide bombers killed Brigadier General Aouni Ali and two of his guards, and more bombings resulted in the deaths of a judge and an army lieutenant.