A political crisis in early 2012 had Iraq on edge, but mediation efforts brought calm for several weeks. The reprieve ended today with at least 14 separate attacks throughout the country.
By Ariel Zirulnick, Staff writer | Christian Science Monitor – 1 hr 56 mins ago
A wave of bombings across Iraq today killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 200. Although not the deadliest day in the country since US troops completed their withdrawal, this morning’s attacks are the most far-reaching so far, according to the Washington Post.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as other Sunni insurgent groups, are “bent on destabilizing” the country and have launched attacks, mostly in Baghdad, every couple weeks since the US withdrawal. A senior Iraqi intelligence official told the AP that he predicted today’s attacks were meant to scare diplomats who plan on attending the Arab League summit scheduled to be held in Baghdad in late March. Last year’s summit, also planned for Baghdad, was canceled for that reason.
There were at least 14 separate attacks today, according to AP. Several of them targeted police checkpoints and patrols, and one of them targeted a police station. The deadliest hit, carried out by a car bomb in downtown Baghdad’s shopping district, killed nine and wounded 26, sending shockwaves several blocks. The police have been targeted frequently. Twenty were killed earlier this week by a suicide bomber who detonated outside the Baghdad police academy.
Concerns about another sectarian conflict were high earlier in the year, when Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki tried to arrest the Sunni vice president, alleging that he ordered death squads targeting security forces. A bloc of Sunni lawmakers boycotted the parliament and Baghdad was rocked by a series of bombings.
Reuters reports that Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish lawmakers have spent the last several weeks trying to negotiate an end to the political crisis, but their work was disrupted last week when a panel of judges released details of 150 attacks that they say were carried out by death squads under Vice President Tareq al Hashemi’s command.