Attacks kill 55 before vote in Iraq
BAGHDAD — Terrorists in Iraq deployed a series of car bombs as part of highly coordinated attacks that cut across a wide swath of the country on Monday, killing at least 55 on the deadliest day in nearly a month.
The assault bore the hallmarks of a resurgent al-Qaida in Iraq and appeared aimed at sowing fear days before the first elections since U.S. troops withdrew. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but coordinated attacks are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida's Iraq branch.
Iraqi officials believe the terror group is growing stronger and increasingly coordinating with allies fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border cooperation with a Syrian group, the Nusra Front, has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.
The intensifying violence, some of it related to the provincial elections scheduled for Saturday, is worrying for Iraqi officials and Baghdad-based diplomats alike. At least 14 candidates have been killed in recent weeks, including one slain in an apparent ambush Sunday.
“Of course we are concerned about the violence in the country that has been increasing in the last weeks,” United Nations envoy Martin Kobler said. He condemned the bloodshed and urged Iraqi officials to push ahead with the elections.
“They should be free and fair, and every voter should go to the polls free of intimidation and fear,” he said.
Iraqi Army Maj. Gen. Hassan al-Baydhani, the No. 2 official at Baghdad's military command, said authorities managed to defuse three car bombs in Baghdad before they could go off.
He described the violence as an attempt to derail the elections and intimidate voters.
“The terrorists want to grab headlines as we approach election day,” he said.
Monday's attacks — most of them car bombings — were unusually broad in scope. Among the places where attacks erupted were the Sunni-dominated western Anbar province and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the ethnically contested oil-rich city of Kirkuk and towns in the predominantly Shiite south.
The deadliest attacks hit Baghdad, where multiple car bombs and other explosions killed 25 people.
In one attack, a parked car bomb exploded at a bus station in the eastern suburbs of Kamaliya, killing four and wounding 13. Qassim Saad, a teacher in a nearby school, said his pupils began screaming as the explosion shattered windows.
He described a chaotic scene where security forces opened fire into the air upon arrival to disperse onlookers as overturned vegetable carts sat stained with blood amid wrecked storefronts.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Scots reject independence from United Kingdom in historic vote
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- 21 massacred in Mexico, witnesses say
- Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid not heard
- Blasts kill dozens in Baghdad area
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike
- Aid to Ukraine uncertain as its leader visits U.S.
- Pistorius could get 15 years for culpable homicide
- Russian gas disruptions ‘test’ Poland
- Ukraine plan would give rebels self-rule to end fighting
- Russia’s business world rattled by arrest of oil tycoon Yevtushenkov