Iraq - 27 bombs in one day

2012-03-20 19:26

Baghdad - At least 27 bombs struck cities and towns across Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 51 people and wounding nearly 250, despite a massive security clampdown ahead of next week's Arab League summit in Baghdad.

It was Iraq's bloodiest day in nearly a month, and the scale of the co-ordinated explosions in more than a dozen cities showed an apparent determination by insurgents to prove that the government cannot keep the country safe ahead of the summit.

Iraq is due to host the meeting for the first time in 20 years and the government is anxious to show it can maintain security following the withdrawal of US troops in December.

"The goal of today's attacks was to present a negative image of the security situation in Iraq," government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.

"Security efforts will be escalated to counteract terrorist groups' attacks and to fill loopholes used by them to infiltrate security, whether in Baghdad or other provinces."

Tuesday's deadliest incident occurred in the southern Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Kerbala, where twin explosions killed 13 people and wounded 48 during the morning rush hour, according to Jamal Mahdi, a Kerbala health department spokesperson.

"The second explosion caused the biggest destruction. I saw body parts, fingers, hands thrown on the road," 23-year-old shop owner Murtadha Ali Kadhim told Reuters.

"The security forces are stupid because they always gather at the site of an explosion and then a second explosion occurs. They become a target."

Blasts also struck in the capital, in Baiji, Baquba, Daquq, Dibis, Dhuluiya, Kirkuk, Mosul, Samarra, Tuz Khurmato and Dujail to the north, in Falluja and Ramadi to the west, and Hilla, Latifiya, Mahmudiya and Mussayab to the south.

Police targeted

Police defused bombs in Baquba, Falluja and Mosul.

Most of the blasts targeted police checkpoints and patrols.

"This latest spate of attacks is very likely to have been co-ordinated by a large and well-organised group. It is likely an attempt to show the authorities that their security measures are insignificant," said John Drake, a senior risk consultant at AKE Group, which studies security in Iraq for corporate clients.

Army and police forces are frequently targeted in Iraq, where bombings and shootings still occur almost daily.

Al-Qaeda's Iraq wing and related Sunni Muslim insurgent groups say that despite the withdrawal of US forces, they will not lay down arms and will continue to battle the Shi'ite-led government. They have claimed responsibility for nearly all the major attacks so far this year.

Although overall violence has declined since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, Iraqis fear their government lacks the wherewithal to impose security nine years after the US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein.

Tuesday's attacks were the biggest since February 23 when dozens of explosions across the country killed at least 60 people.

Extra security

The Arab League summit on March 27-29 will be the first held in Baghdad since Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Tuesday was also the day after the ninth anniversary of the start of the US invasion that toppled Saddam.

Security has been stepped up across the city's checkpoints, where thorough searches have backed up traffic for hours in recent days.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, two car bombs exploded near a police headquarters, killing nine people and wounding 42, police and health sources said. In Baghdad, a car bomb near the provincial council building killed four and wounded 11.

Police in the northeastern city of Baquba said they had found and defused nine bombs, including one in a booby-trapped car which was parked on the road with a decapitated body in the driver's seat and the man's head in his lap.

By late afternoon, the toll from all the bombings compiled by Reuters from police and hospital sources stood at 51 killed and 239 wounded.

On Monday evening, bombers struck five times in the northern province of Diyala, killing at least three people and wounding more than 30, police said.

The government says it will be deploying up to 100 000 additional troops and police in Baghdad to impose extra security measures and will close Baghdad's airport during the summit.

  • Andrew - 2012-03-20 19:34

    And the Muslims frantically claim that Islam is a peaceful religion. Who the hell are they fooling?????

      Shaheen - 2012-03-20 19:47

      Terrorism has no religion. They not Muslims just evil people please don't confuse the two.

      Penny - 2012-03-20 19:57

      @Shaheen - go read your history. When Mohammed rode into Mecca with his armies, they slaughters man, woman and child. Islam is ridden with violence. They still behead women who they convict of adultery.

      Arp Liebenberg - 2012-03-20 20:05

      themselves bunch of idiots!

      Poloyatonki - 2012-03-20 20:29

      George Bush created this mess.

      Fred - 2012-03-21 06:15

      Poloyatonki, your comment is as intelligent as your photo

      Fred - 2012-03-21 06:17

      Patrick, the usual anti-US OCD comment. Plus you're an anti-semite from your post on another thread that "the wolrd would be a better place if Jews were removed from all walks of life". You're thoughts are so weak they have little or no impact at all.

      Fred - 2012-03-21 06:20

      Andrew, that's too general. The violence is by Islamic Jihadists, a Muslim sect that is hijacking the Muslim religion for their own narrow, twisted ends. The disappointing thing to me is that Muslims in general are not speaking up against them.

  • ISO - 2012-03-20 19:45

    These terrorists just gets more and more extreme by the day! This is one war that will never end!

  • robbieyahu - 2012-03-20 20:07

    something doesn't add up ...... always question ... always ask why and by who ....

      Fred - 2012-03-21 06:18

      To destabilize Iraq and take the country back 2,500 years. By Al-Quaida who openly takes responsibility for the attacks.

  • Shaheen - 2012-03-20 20:41

    @ penny wise. Don't be (pound) foolish. This is not a religious issue.

  • Shaheen - 2012-03-20 20:54

    @ pennywise . Please read your history prophet muhammed rode peacefully to makkah and proclaimed truth prevails and falsehood perishes. Damn now I'm making it a religious issue. Sorry guys just wanted to set the record straight.

  • Dar - 2012-03-21 06:40

    America bombs Iraq, overthrows Saddam replaces his government with a pro Iran Shi'i, Iran is supposed to be Americas arch enemy yet they strengthen them with an Ally in Iraq? Ahmadinejad the ruler of Iran wants to 'remove Israel from the face of the earth' yet he comes from a Jewish Family? ( I smell a rat!

      Dar - 2012-03-21 13:43

      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a Jew Hitler was a Jew

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