Suicide attacks put Iraq's political future in doubt

More than 120 people were killed in one of the bloodiest days of the Iraq conflict yesterday in a series of attacks, including two devastating suicide bombings.

The violence, which also claimed the lives of seven American soldiers, brought the number of deaths to 170 in 48 hours and prompted further doubts about the fiture political stability of Iraq following the elections last month.

The suicide blasts were in the Shia holy city of Karbala and at Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. Another three explosions took place in Baghdad and a massive fire started after an oil pipeline was blown up near Kirkuk in the north.

Iraq's Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and other prominent politicians condemned the attacks, saying they were intended to sabotage progress being made towards forming a broad-based coalition government. But the country's largest Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) bitterly denounced Sunni Arab groups for inciting sectarian violence after faring poorly at the polls. Reinforcing fears of further descent into civil war, they warned some factions may take direct action because the American-led coalition was allegedly hampering attempts by government forces to combat the insurgents.

Yesterday's death toll was the largest in four months and, critics point out, shows the state of near anarchy in Iraq in stark contrast to repeated claims by President George Bush and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that the security situation is improving.

The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, noted that the "horrendous crime" was the latest in a series of increasingly violent attacks after the 15 December elections and warned of the danger of the democratic process being fatally undermined.

Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, had been relatively peaceful in recent months. Yesterday's suicide blast, near the Imam Hussein shrine, was aimed at one of the Shia's holiest places.

Police Colonel Razaq al-Taie said 49 people had been killed and another 52 injured. The bomber had detonated his bomb about 30 yards from the shrine in a busy pedestrian area. A mother and her infant girl, in a bright red jumpsuit, lay in a pool of blood.

"I never thought such a crime could happen near this holy site," said Mohammed Saheb, who suffered a head injury. "The terrorists are targeting the Shia."

Karbala's governor, Aqeel al-Khazraji, blamed "takfiris and Saddamists" for the attack. The Sunni takfiri ideology is followed by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has declared war on the Shia population.

The attack in Ramadi, which killed 56 people and wounded 60 others, was aimed at a queue of police recruits. Elsewhere, five American soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle while on patrol in Baghdad. Another two members of US forces were killed by a roadside bomb near the southern city of Najaf.

Final results from the elections should be released within two weeks, and they are expected to show the Shia United Iraqi Alliance winning about 130 of parliament's 275 seats, a figure well short of the 184 needed to form a government.

Talks are being held to form an administration with Sunni participation. But a senior official in the Iraqi Accordance Movement, the main minority Sunni coalition, blamed the Shia-dominated government for colluding in the violence.

Izzat al-Shahbandar said: "This government has not only failed to end violence, but has become an accomplice by adopting sectarian policies, and by weakening the state and strengthening militia groups."

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker