US condemns Baghdad car bombings on Shia neighbourhoods

State Department says attacks consistent with those carried out by al-Qa'ida in Iraq

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The Independent Online

The US has strongly condemned a wave of bomb attacks that took place in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 69 people, wounding 140 more.

A spokeswoman from the US Department of State said in a statement that the car bombings, targetting those celebrating the end of Ramadan, carry the hallmarks of similar attacks carried out by al-Qa'ida's Iraq branch in the past month-and-a-half.

Twelve separate explosions targeted areas where Muslims were marking the final day of the holy fasting month in cafés, restaurants and markets in the Iraqi capital.

One of the worst blasts came shortly before sunset in the south-eastern suburb of Jisr Diyala where seven people died while at an outdoor shopping centre.

Five more were reported to have been killed when a bomb went off while drivers waited in a traffic jam in Karbala.

In a further attack, a suicide bomber blew up a car on a busy road in Tuz Khurmato, north of Baghdad, killing 10 and wounding more than 30. The town has been the scene of increased violence in recent months.

The attacks on Shia neighbourhoods came on the Eid Al-Fir holiday, bringing to an end of the most violent Ramadan since 2007. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July alone and there remain fears that an all-out sectarian war may yet erupt in the country again. Fifty people died in a series of explosions in Baghdad on Tuesday

Tensions have increased since a crackdown on a Sunni anti-government protest camp in April in which dozens died during angry skirmishes. Security patrols had been stepped up in Baghdad as attacks against civilians and security forces spiked during Ramadan.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said last week: "We will not leave our children to these murderers and those standing behind them and supporting both inside and outside.

The US has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture or death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. The reward is second only to information leading to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief of the al-Qa'ida network.