16 blasts fuel fear of life ‘after US’
- Last Updated: 12:36 PM, December 23, 2011
- Posted: 2:12 AM, December 23, 2011
BAGHDAD — At least 69 people were killed in 16 bombings across Baghdad yesterday, the worst violence in more than four months.
There was no claim of responsibility, but most of the attacks targeted Shiite neighborhoods, and officials said they appeared to be the work of al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents emboldened by the withdrawal of the last US troops from Iraq.
The deadliest attack was in the Karrada neighborhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a corruption-fighting government agency.
Two police officers at the scene said the bomber told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building, where he triggered his explosives, the officers said.
The blast killed 25 people, injured 62 and left a crater five yards wide.
“I was sleeping in my bed when the explosion happened, said 12-year-old Hussain Abbas, who was standing nearby in his pajamas. “I jumped from my bed and rushed to my mom’s lap. I told her I did not to go to school today. I’m terrified.”
The attacks, coordinated to take place beginning with the morning rush hour, must have taken weeks to plan and prepare, Iraqi officials said. They included car bombs, roadside blasts and at least one suicide bombing.
Officials said at least 183 people were wounded, and dozens were in serious condition at hospitals.
The attacks raised speculation that they were intended to coincide with the end of the American military presence in Iraq, to undercut US claims that they are leaving a stable and secure Iraq.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the attacks serve no agenda “other than murder and hatred.”
The bombings came as Iraq’s elected officials are embroiled in a dispute over an arrest warrant issued for Vice President Tareq al Hashemi, a Sunni leader. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is demanding that Kurdish authorities hand over Hashemi.