Scores killed across Baghdad in blasts on 10th anniversary of invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein

 

A wave of bombings tore through Baghdad this morning, killing at least 57 people in a spasm of violence on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion.

The attacks show how dangerous and unstable Iraq remains a decade after the war — a country where sectarian violence can explode at any time. And though attacks have ebbed since the peak of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007, tensions simmer and militants remain a potent threat to Iraq's security forces.

Today's attacks were mostly by car bombs and targeted mainly Shiite areas, small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in the Iraqi capital and nearby towns over a span of more than two hours.

Along with 56 killed, over 200 people were wounded in the attacks, officials said.

The bombings came 10 years to the day that Washington announced the start of the invasion on March 19, 2003 — though by that time it was already the following morning in Iraq.

Also today, Iraq's Cabinet decided to postpone upcoming provincial elections in two provinces dominated by the country's minority Sunnis for up to six months. The decision followed requests from the political blocs in the provinces, according to the prime minister's spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi.

The two provinces affected, Anbar and Ninevah, have been at the center of the nearly three-month-long protests against Iraq's Shiite-led government. Provincial elections were scheduled for April 20.

One of the deadliest of today's attacks struck close to one of the main gates to the heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses major government offices and the embassies of several countries, including the United States and Britain. That blast outside a restaurant killed six people, including two soldiers, and wounded more than 15. Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the area as ambulances raced to the scene.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, but the attacks bore hallmarks of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. The terror group favors spectacular, coordinated bombings intended to undermine public confidence in the Shiite-led government.

Police and hospital officials who provided accounts of the days' bloodshed reported the most casualties from a car bombing near the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Baghdad's eastern Qahira neighborhood at around 10 am. That blast killed seven people and wounded 21.

The officials provide casualty numbers on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to journalists.

The violence started at around 8 am, when a bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 15. It blew out the eatery's windows and left several cars mangled in the blood-streaked street.

Minutes later, two day laborers were killed and eight were wounded when a roadside bomb hit the place where they gather every day in an area of New Baghdad.

In the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a bomb stuck to the underside of a minibus killed three commuters and wounded seven people. Another car bomb exploded in a commercial street in the same area, killing two people and wounding 11, and yet another bomb struck a police patrol in the neighborhood, killing five people and wounding 13.

Hussein Abdul-Khaliq, a government employee who lives in Sadr city, said he heard the explosion and went out to find the minibus on fire.

“We helped take some trapped women and children from outside the burning bus before the arrival of the rescue teams. Our clothes were covered with blood as we tried to rescue the trapped people or to move out the bodies,” he said.

“Today's attacks are new proof that the politicians and security officials are a huge failure,” he said.

Other attacks struck the largely Shiite neighborhoods of Hussainiyah, Zafarniyah, Shula and Utaifiya, as well as the Sunni district of Tarmiyah.

Just outside the capital, a mortar shell landed near a clinic in the town of Taji, killing two people and wounding five. And about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad, in Iskandiriyah, a car bomb exploded near a bus stop, killing five people and wounding 20.

Today's attacks came a day after insurgents killed nine people, including a bombing by a suicide attacker who killed five when he drove an explosives-laden car into a checkpoint in the central Iraqi town of Balad Ruz.

Al-Qa'ida's Iraq arm, which operates under the name the Islamic State of Iraq, has sought to reassert its presence in recent weeks.

Last week, the group claimed responsibility for a highly coordinated attack earlier this month in far western Iraq that killed nine Iraqis and 51 Syrian soldiers who had sought temporary refuge in the country.

And on Sunday, al-Qa'ida's Iraq branch took responsibility for a brazen and again highly coordinated raid on the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad last week. The attack, involving car bombs and gunmen disguised as police, killed at least 24 people.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Night job: Pacha nightclub DJ, Joan Ribas, is the new kingmaker on the island
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada