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."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam