Updated at 5:59 p.m. EST, April, 4, 2010
The worst attack so far this year took place in Baghdad and left hundreds dead or wounded. At least 55 Iraqis were killed and 320 more were wounded there and across the country. Some of the casualties from the Baghdad blasts may have been foreign personnel, but reports suggests otherwise. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was quick to tentatively blame al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, casualty figures climbed in March due to the national elections, but if attacks continue, April figures could be even higher.
In Baghdad, as many as 50 people were killed and 256 were wounded in three apparently coordinated blasts (video) targeting foreign embassies. The attack began at about 11:20 local time. The first explosion occurred near the German ambassador’s home or embassy in Mansour. It was followed by a blast a few minutes later that was close to the nearby Egyptian consulate. The third bomb exploded outside the Iranian embassy in Salhiyah, which is near the Green Zone, within the hour. Authorities confirmed that at least 41 were killed and 256 were wounded, but accurate casualty figures are difficult to come by after such massive attacks.
Although the Salhiyah blast took place at the embassy gate, no personnel were harmed. Many of the victims there came from a nearby bank instead. Workers at the German and Egyptian embassies were not as lucky; however, they were likely Iraqi personnel working for the foreign consuls, not foreign diplomats. Shots were heard after the explosions, and a fourth bomber was killed and a fifth was wounded before he could detonate his explosives; he may have been targeting a Chaldean church full of Easter worshippers. The Spanish embassy was damaged, but no casualties were reported there.
The blasts come at a delicate time for the Iraqi government. Now that national elections are over, the task of creating the new government remains. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting to retain power, risking the anger of those who voted against his party. Last year’s massive Baghdad bombings were believed to be a comment on his premiership. This weekend his political rival, Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, held a referendum to decide which candidate he will support for the prime minister’s office. Another Shi’ite leader appears to be backing leading candidate Ayad Allawi. Also, the targeting of the Iranian embassy could be interpreted as a response to the widespread belief Iran is interfering in Iraqi politics.
Earlier, several likely unrelated bomb attacks took place across Baghdad. Nine people were wounded when bomb targeting police in Utifiya exploded. A bombing in Yusufiya left four wounded, including a policeman. One person was wounded during a sticky bomb explosion in Doura. A second sticky bomb in Doura wounded a policeman. In Qahira, a blast wounded two people. No casualties were reported after mortars struck the Green Zone in attacks today and yesterday. A woman was wounded in a Katyusha rocket attack in Karrada.
Mosul was rocked by a massive car bomb targeting a National Police patrol just south of the city in the Wadi Hajar region. Three people were killed and 40 more were wounded. Wadi Hajar has long been the scene of small attacks and this one shouldn’t be seen as part of the Baghdad attack; however, a brutal attack against Sunnis in Mahmoudiya yesterday involved men allegedly wearing National Police uniforms. The National Police was once feared for its Shi’ite death squads, but the department was ostensibly cleaned up a couple years ago. Separately, two of five juvenile escapees were recaptured after the second jailbreak this week.
A bicycle bomb left near a gathering of workers in Baquba exploded, wounding six of them.