Scores dead after Baghdad blasts

2011-12-22 11:20

Baghdad - A rash of bombings hit Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 57 people in the first big attack on Iraq's capital since a crisis between its Shi'ite Muslim-led government and Sunni rivals erupted days after the US troop withdrawal.

The apparently co-ordinated bombings were the first sign of rising violence after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki moved to sideline two Sunni Muslim leaders, just a few years after sectarian bloodletting drove Iraq to the edge of civil war.

At least 18 people were killed when a suicide bomber driving an ambulance detonated the vehicle near a government office in the Karrada district, sending up a dust cloud and scattering car parts into a kindergarten, police and health officials said.

"We heard the sound of a car driving, then car brakes, then a huge explosion, all our windows and doors are blown out, black smoke filled our apartment," said Maysoun Kamal, who lives in a Karrada compound.

Roadside bombs

In total at least 57 people were killed and 179 were wounded in more than 10 explosions in Baghdad, an Iraqi health ministry spokesperson said.

Two roadside bombs struck the south-western Amil district, killing at least seven people and wounding 21 others, while a car bomb blew up in a Shi'ite neighbourhood in Doura in the south, killing three people and wounding six, police said.

More bombs ripped into the central Alawi area, Shaab and Shula in the north, all mainly Shi'ite areas, and a roadside bomb killed one and wounded five near the Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiya, police said.

Violence in Iraq has ebbed since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, when suicide bombers and hit squads targeted Sunni and Shi'ite communities in attacks that killed thousands of people.

Iraq is still fighting a stubborn, lower-grade insurgency with Sunni Islamists tied to al Qaeda and Shi'ite militias, who US officials say are backed by Iran, still staging daily attacks.

The last few thousand American troops pulled out of Iraq over the weekend, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. Many Iraqis had said they feared a return to sectarian violence without a US military buffer.

System impaired by political infighting

Just days after the withdrawal, Iraq's fragile power-sharing government is grappling with its worst turmoil since its formation a year ago. Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs share out government posts in an unwieldy system that has been impaired by political infighting since it began.

Maliki this week sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges he organised assassinations and bombings, and he asked parliament to fire his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq after he likened Maliki to Saddam.

The moves against the senior Sunni leaders are stirring sectarian tensions because Sunnis fear the prime minister wants to consolidate Shi'ite control.

Iraq's Sunni minority have felt marginalised since the rise of the Shi'ite majority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Many Sunnis feel they have been shunted aside in the power-sharing agreement that Washington touts as a young democracy.

Thursday's attacks represented the first major assault in Baghdad since November when three bombs exploded in a commercial district and another blast hit the city's western outskirts on Saturday, killing at least 13 people.

In October, bomb attacks on a busy commercial street in north-eastern Baghdad killed at least 30, with scores wounded.

  • rbphiri - 2011-12-22 11:48

    Will there ever peace in the middle east? Iraq should not regard the Sunni Islamists as a lower-grade insurgency, after all any group with ties to alQaeda and Shi'ite militias is dangerous in their own right. Let's not forget Somalia's Islamist insurgents Al Shabaab, the group's ability was underestimated by authorities in they are dependent on Israel to help them curb the same threat they estimated.

  • J.D. - 2011-12-22 11:54

    Ja there we go again...desert rats, nothing else to do then to kill. This will continue forever. Perhaps this will help to understand the problems of Israel better. At leat the produce and keep them constructively busy.

  • FerretGee - 2011-12-22 12:04

    If it wasn't for the oil in the Middle East, the rest of the world would let them all kill each other with impunity.

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2011-12-22 15:32

      Absolutely agree

  • Dane - 2011-12-22 12:26

    Another pointless attack killing innocent people, to send a message no one understands....

  • Angus - 2011-12-22 12:30

    And this, dear exactly why certain nations end up being ruled by colonists!

  • Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 16:05

    Seems these okes were better off under Saddam. Wonder whats going to happen in Libya. Maybe some nations can only survive having a powerful dictator in charge, its the only way for them to live in relative peace. Tolerance does not seem to exist for some religions and nationalities, they can't survive under western style democracy. I say leave them be, as long as they don't threaten their neighbours, let them kill each other. Intervention seems to make things worse, the west should stop trrying to play god.

      spartanx93 - 2011-12-22 16:33

      unfortunately some countries need a dictator. look at egypt. they are free from dictatorship but the country is in a mess. libya is soon to follow and soon is syria. sometimes the west makes issues in the middle-east far more worse when they start to meddle as they do not fully understand the dynamics of arab culture.

      Barry - 2011-12-22 19:45

      Unfortunately the USA think Global Economic Terrorism works for them. So we can look to more of the same stuff I think.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-23 07:18

      This is it, its a falacy all humans are the same. We may have the same basic genetics, but different nations brains function in different ways. I think its a gene that influences the way one reasons. Nothing racist about it, just a fact.

  • toibry - 2011-12-22 22:40

    Why do the nations rage and the people's plot in vain?

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