Iraq looks for answers after deadly attacks

Iraqi security forces faced charges of negligence on Tuesday after a devastating wave of attacks blamed on al-Qaeda killed 110 people the previous day, the country’s bloodiest violence this year.

About five dozen bombings and shootings shattered a lull in unrest, in a setback as Iraq moves closer to forming a government two months after a general election seen as crucial to United States combat troops leaving the country by August 31.

The government pinned the blame on al-Qaeda, while Iraq’s deputy interior minister conceded that the nation’s security apparatus was at fault and an inquiry into its shortcomings was under way.

“There were security violations because of weak inspection measures” at checkpoints, Hussein Ali Kamal told the Bayan newspaper, which is close to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

“Security leaders will be held accountable for these incidents and will find out who was negligent.”

A posting on a prominent jihadist website said the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al-Qaeda front in the country, was behind at least some of Monday’s carnage, but it did not amount to an official claim of responsibility.

The deadliest attack saw two suicide car bombs detonate simultaneously in the car park of a textiles factory in the Shi’ite central city of Hilla, as workers boarded buses to go home.

A third car bomb exploded minutes later and a fourth explosion — in a coordinated operation typical of al-Qaeda — engulfed emergency workers who were treating victims at the scene.

Hospital officials in Hilla said on Tuesday that the toll had risen to 53 people dead and 157 wounded.

The toll from three car bombs, which struck two markets in the southern port city of Basra, also rose — to 25 killed and 223 wounded — said security officials.


Attacks also targeted security checkpoints in Baghdad, a Shi’ite mosque in Suwayrah, 60km south-east of the capital, the former Sunni insurgent bastion of Fallujah, in Iskandiriyah, south of Baghdad, and near Tarmiyah, north of the Iraqi capital.

In total 110 people were killed and more than 500 wounded, the highest death toll since December 8 when 127 people were murdered in five vehicle-borne bombs in Baghdad.

International condemnation
The US led international condemnation of the violence, saying opponents of progress in Iraq were making “one last charge” at fomenting chaos.

In Baghdad, Defence Ministry spokesperson Major General Mohammed al-Askari said al-Qaeda was to blame for Monday’s attacks — 59 in nine locations according to the Interior Ministry — in what amounted to retaliation.

“These bombings carry the fingerprints of al-Qaeda,” he said.

Askari was referring to an Iraqi-US military operation last month that killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, political leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Ayub al-Masri, an Egyptian militant and the group’s self-styled “minister of war”.

“It is logical that al-Qaeda commits more than one terrorist attack in different cities … to send a message that says: ‘We can commit attacks in different areas at the same time’.”

A posting on the Hanein jihadist website said the ISI killed 33 (Iraqi) soldiers in a series of attacks in Baghdad, Fallujah, Diyala province and other areas on Monday.

Although violence has dropped in the past two years, the latest unrest will be seen as evidence that insurgents remain capable of wreaking carnage on a grand scale while the country grapples with political upheaval.

Electoral officials said on Sunday that results from the March 7 vote were nearly finalised, with totals from all but one province sent for ratification. A recount in the lone exception, Baghdad, is due to be completed by Friday.

Monday’s violence came after figures showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence in April fell slightly month on month but was almost unchanged from 12 months ago — 328 people died as a result of attacks last month.

In fresh violence on Tuesday, eight people were wounded as a car bomb exploded near an army checkpoint in Fallujah. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Ammar Karim
Guest Author
Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday