News24

Iraq on alert after deadly blasts

2010-04-05 19:36

Baghdad - Iraqi forces were on high alert in Baghdad on Monday after 30 people were killed in bomb attacks on foreign embassies blamed on delays in the formation of a new government after elections a month ago.

The suicide vehicle blasts, which a minister said bore the signature of al-Qaeda, occurred within minutes of each other on Sunday.

More than 200 people were wounded in the attacks which targeted regional and European embassies in the capital.

There was a heavy security presence on Baghdad's streets, with tighter measures at traffic checkpoints, especially at the sites of the explosions near the Iranian, Egyptian and German embassies.

'Terrorists still in business'

The attacks came as Iraq's political parties were battling to form a coalition government, with none of the four main blocs having the required seats to form a parliamentary majority on their own.

"This is a political attack, aimed at derailing the process, sending a message that the terrorists are still in business," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP.

"Because of the vacuum of forming the next government, they wanted to send that message."

Security officials had warned protracted coalition building could give insurgents an opportunity to further destabilise the country.

Embassies struck

Two of the explosions were suicide attacks against the Egyptian and Iranian embassies, while a third struck an intersection near the German, Spanish and Syrian missions.

Baghdad security spokesperson Major General Qassim Atta said a bomb-laden car had also been intercepted in Masbah, central Baghdad, apparently heading towards the headquarters of police tasked with diplomatic protection.

Its driver was arrested and the device was defused, he said.

Zebari said the attacks appeared to be the work of al-Qaeda, cautioning however that this could only be confirmed once investigators completed their task.

"They bear the same marks of previous attacks, in the timing, the targeting, the simultaneous attacks on different targets in different places to have maximum impact," said the foreign minister.