Multiple bombings rocked central Baghdad yesterday, striking mainly near the heavily fortified Green Zone where key Iraqi government offices are located and killing at least 16 people, Iraqi officials said.
The attacks were the latest in a relentless push by Sunni militants to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government’s efforts to maintain security in the nation, two years after the pullout of US troops from the country.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but such systematic and brazen attacks against government buildings, security forces and Shiites in general bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq.
The group has become emboldened by the successes of its fellow militants in the civil war next door in Syria and by widespread Sunni anger at the government.
The deadliest of yesterday’s attacks took place across the street from the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, when two bombs placed in parked cars went off simultaneously in two different parking lots. Those explosions killed at least seven people and wounded 15, a police officer said.
Shortly afterward, a suicide bomber walked into a nearby falafel restaurant, where he set off his explosives-laden belt, killing five people and wounding 12, the officer added. The restaurant and others around it are often used by officials or visitors waiting for security escorts to take them inside the Green Zone.
Also yesterday, a parked car bomb went off in Khilani Square in the Iraqi capital’s commercial center, killing four people and wounding eight, another police officer said.
Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.
Iraq has seen resurgence in violence over the past year. According to UN figures, last year had the highest death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007. The UN said violence killed 8,868 last year.
Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq has in the past staged spectacular attacks on Iraqi ministries such as in August 2009, when suicide bombers hit the ministries of finance and foreign affairs buildings, killing more than 100 people.
The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, as the group was known at the time.