Iraq attacks death toll rises

2012-08-17 18:03
AP

AP

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Baghdad — Iraqi officials said on Friday that a blistering string of attacks across the country the previous day ultimately killed at least 93 people, as the extent of the violence grew clearer and mourners started to bury their dead.

Thursday's attacks began early in the north of Iraq and ended with deadly bomb explosions near busy markets, restaurants and ice cream parlours shortly before midnight.

It was Iraq's deadliest day in more than three weeks. The attacks seemed meant to strike fear in Iraqis and undermine faith in the Shi'ite-led government's security measures ahead of what was supposed to be a festive holiday weekend.

Since the start of August, more than 190 people have been killed in violence across Iraq, showing that insurgents led by al-Qaeda's Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last US troops left the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Co-ordinated bombings and related attacks are a favourite tactic of the al-Qaida offshoot, known as the Islamic State of Iraq.

Among the higher casualty numbers disclosed on Friday were 21 people killed when a car bomb detonated shortly before midnight near an ice cream shop in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Zafaraniyah neighbourhood, according to police and hospital officials.

'No safe place in Iraq'

Another bomb exploded near an ice cream parlour and fruit and vegetable stalls in the capital's Sadr City, another poor Shi'ite district.

The black, mangled body of a car sat in the middle of the street on Friday. Broken plastic chairs and blood-stained fixtures littered the sidewalk. That blast killed 14, authorities said.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the tallies to reporters.

Hassan Karim, aged 23, was in the Sadr City shop chatting with friends when the bomb went off.

"I saw a big flash, followed by thunderous noise. ... I opened my eyes to find myself in the hospital with my left hand bandaged," he said.

"Before yesterday, we thought there were still safe places to sit and have a nice time with friends, but with this explosion we know there is no safe place in Iraq. All the best security measures could not stop terrorists from killing people."

Tightening security


Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, dozens of people carried the coffins of relatives through the streets. Some mourners wept, while others sought solace by chanting "God is great."

Iraqi officials are tightening security ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend. They are hoping to thwart further violence as crowds gather in public places such as parks, shrines and mosques to mark the occasion.

Thursday's attacks, which included several bombings in the ethnically mixed northern flashpoint of Kirkuk, were Iraq's deadliest in weeks. On 23 July, a string of co-ordinated bombings and shootings left more than 100 dead.

- AP

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