- Associated Press - Monday, August 15, 2011

KUT, Iraq — Bomb blasts ripped through more than a dozen Iraqi cities Monday, killing 60 security forces and civilians in the worst attack this year, one that highlighted al Qaeda’s resolve and ability to wreak havoc.

The bloodbath comes less than two weeks after Iraqi officials said they would be open to a small number of U.S. forces staying in the country past a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.

The blasts were coordinated to go off Monday morning and included parked-car bombs, roadside bombs, a suicide bomber driving a vehicle that rammed into a police station and even bombs attached to light poles.

The scope of the violence - seven explosions went off in different towns in Diyala province alone - emphasized that insurgents are still able to carry out attacks despite repeated crackdowns by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

Iraqis were furious at security officials and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“Where is the government with all these explosions across the country? Where is al-Maliki? Why doesn’t he come to see?” said Ali Jumaa Ziad, a shop owner in Kut, where the worst of the violence occurred.

Mr. al-Maliki’s spokesman and the military spokesman did not answer telephone calls.

Twin explosions rocked the market in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, where Mr. Ziad works.

Police spokesman Lt. Col. Dhurgam Mohammed Hassan said the first bomb went off in a freezer used to keep drinks cold. As rescuers and onlookers gathered, a parked-car bomb exploded; 35 people were killed and 64 injured.

Earlier this month, Iraqi political leaders announced they would begin negotiations with the U.S. to determine whether to keep a small number of American forces in the country past Dec. 31.

All U.S. troops must leave by the end of this year, but Iraqi and U.S. officials have expressed concern about the ability of Iraqi forces to protect the country.

Theodore Karasik, a Middle East security expert at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analyst, said al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to disrupt the internal Iraqi political process and send a message to the Americans.

“It seems that al Qaeda in Iraq is playing a propaganda game at the same time it’s trying to show that it can still carry out deadly violence,” Mr. Karasik said.

“If the U.S. extends its military presence, al Qaeda in Iraq can use it as a tool by saying, ‘Look, the Americans have reversed their decision to leave and are staying on as occupiers.’ They could use this as a justification for more attacks.”

In Diyala province, seven bombs went off in the capital of Baquba and towns nearby, said Faris al-Azawi, the province’s health spokesman.

Five soldiers were killed in Baquba while five people were killed in other attacks around the province.

Just outside the southern city of Najaf, a suicide car bomber plowed his vehicle into a checkpoint outside a police building, said Luay al-Yassiri, head of the Najaf province security committee.

Outside the nearby city of Karbala, a parked-car bomb near a police station killed three policemen and injured 14 others, according to two police officers.

In the northern city of Tikrit, two men wearing explosives belts drove into a heavily guarded government compound wearing military uniforms, which helped them avoid notice, said Mohammed al-Asi, the provincial spokesman.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded next to a police patrol, injuring four police officers.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide