Just a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned of efforts to stoke sectarian strife, coordinated attacks against mostly Shi’ite targets took place across the country. At least 97 Iraqis were killed in the attacks, and another 348 were wounded. While some of the bloodshed is part of the background violence that still plagues Iraq, when major attacks occur, more of the base ones get reported.
A member of parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, Shuwan Mohammed Taha, blamed the government itself for the lapse in security. Tawa charged national security forces with an inability to protect Iraq because one party monopolizes the ranks and renders them unable to cooperate with other government agencies. The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of national security, simply blamed al-Qaeda.
Separately, one of the prime minister’s advisors, Adel Barwari, admitted the government had some intelligence of these attacks. He also blamed the rise in attacks on political tensions between the two major Shi’ite and Sunni parties.
A relatively peaceful February had followed a surge in violence that began just as the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December. The withdrawal coincided with what critics of the Maliki administration call a concerted effort to marginalize Sunni political rivals. The administration targeted top Sunnis such as Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi for harassment or arrest. As a result, the Sunni-supported Iraqiya party staged a weeks-long walkout. When members ended the boycott, attacks subsided.
This week, however, the Iraqi government resumed vilifying Hashemi in the press and set a date for his trial. A judicial panel sided with the Maliki administration in calling for Hashemi to be tried on terrorism charges. Hashemi has denied the charges and claims to be the target of a political vendetta. He says that all the publicity in what should be a discreet investigation is an attempt by Maliki to marginalize Sunni rivals and concentrate power in his office.
In Diyala province, where several attacks took place, the head of security said they had no intelligence warning of potential attacks but was certain they were politically motivated. In December, Diyala’s council began a bid to increase the province’s autonomy. The bid enraged Prime Minister Maliki and set off a series of attacks directed at the council.
At least 10 bomb attacks took place in Baghdad alone. Nine people were killed and 27 more were wounded during a blast near a Karrada ice-cream shop. Six people were killed and 18 more were wounded during a blast on a restaurant-lined street in Kadhimiya. A bomb in Adhamiya killed four people and wounded eight more. In Mansour, a bomb left seven dead and seven wounded. Two bombs at an Abu Dsheer market left six dead and ten wounded. A bomb and small arms attack in Saidiya left four dead and 14 wounded. Two people were killed and five others were wounded in a blast in al-Faris al-Arabi Square. Six people were killed and three more were wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in Sarafiya. Two bombs in the suburb of Taji wounded five people. Six policemen were killed during an attack on their patrol in Waziriya.
A car bomb near an elementary school in Mussayab left one dead and 96 wounded, mostly children.
Seven people were killed and 33 more were wounded during a blast in Balad.
An army commander was wounded during a sticky bomb blast in Rashad.
Nine bombs in the city of Jalawla left three dead and 21 wounded.
A sticky bomb in Muqdadiya wounded one civilian.
An I.E.D. blast wounded a woman in Buhriz.
Gunmen wounded a woman in Khalis.
In Imam Weis, a blast wounded two soldiers.
A man was killed and his wife injured during an attack on their Hashemi home.
A man was killed as he was allegedly planting a bomb on a Mandali highway frequented by army patrols.
In Tuz Khormato, a taxi bomb outside a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan office left four wounded.
A car bomb at a Baiji marketplace killed three people and wounded five more.
One person was killed and 16 more were wounded in a Dujail bombing.
One civilian was killed and four others were wounded in a blast at a home in Falluja.
Gunmen stormed a home in Garma, where they killed a farmer and wounded two relatives.
A bomb in Ramadi killed an army major.
In Qariya Asriya, a blast at a home left three dead.
A blast killed one policeman and wounded two more in Nile.
One person was killed and seven others were wounded in an I.E.D. blast in Hilla.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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