Wave of bombings across Iraq kills at least 63

 

A wave of bombings has hit Baghdad, killing at least 63 people in the worst violence Iraq has seen for months.

The apparently co-ordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left Iraq and in the midst of a major government crisis between the country's top Shiite and Sunni political leaders.

The bombings may be linked more to the US withdrawal than the political crisis, but the developments heighten fears of a new round of sectarian bloodshed like the one a few years ago that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of an attack by the Sunni insurgents of al-Qai'da.

Most of the violence appeared to hit Shiite neighbourhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted.

In all, 11 neighbourhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. At least one of the attacks was a suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours.

The worst blast was in the Karrada neighbourhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption.

Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building where he blew himself up.

Sirens wailed as ambulances rushed to the scene and a large plume of smoke rose over the area. The blast left a crater about five yards (metres) wide in front of the five-storey building, which was singed and blackened.

"I was sleeping in my bed when the explosion happened," said 12-year-old Hussain Abbas, who was standing nearby in his pyjamas. "I jumped from my bed and rushed to my mother's lap. I told her I did not to go to school today. I'm terrified."

At least 25 people were killed and 62 injured in that attack, officials said.

Figures gathered from Iraqi health and police officials across the city put the death toll at 60, and 160 injured.

Iraqis are already used to horrific levels of violence, but many wondered when they would be able to enjoy some measure of security and stability after years of chaos.

"My baby was sleeping in her bed. Shards of glass have fallen on our heads. Her father hugged her and carried her. She is now scared in the next room," said one woman in western Baghdad. "All countries are stable. Why don't we have security and stability?"

While Baghdad and Iraq have become much safer over the years, explosions like today's are still commonplace. They come at a precarious time in Iraq's political history.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week accused Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of running a hit squad that targeted government officials and put out a warrant for his arrest. Al-Maliki is also pushing for a vote of no-confidence against another Sunni politician, the deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Many Sunnis fear that this is part of a wider campaign to go after Sunni political figures in general and shore up Shiite control across the country at a critical time when all American troops have left Iraq.

Ayad Allawi, who heads a Sunni-backed party called Iraqiya, laid the blame for today's violence with the government.

The Iraqiya coalition also includes al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq, and Allawi has been one of al-Maliki's strongest critics. Allawi warned that violence would continue as long as people are left out of the political process.

"We have warned long ago that terrorism will continue ... against the Iraqi people unless the political landscape is corrected and the political process is corrected, and it becomes an inclusive political process and full blown non-sectarian institutions will be built in Iraq," Allawi said.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

£31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Area Sales Manager - Specialist Interiors - £65,000 OTE

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Car: h2 Recruit Ltd: EXCLUSIVE TO H2 RECRUIT - GLO...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Alcohol-OTE £90,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum + £50,000 OTE + Car, Mobile, Benefits: h2 Recruit Lt...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game