String Of Bombings Kill 76 In Baghdad
Rapid-fire bombings and mortar strikes in mostly Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad killed 76 people and wounded nearly 200 on Tuesday, calling into question the ability of Iraqi security forces to protect the capital.
The blasts _ at least 13 separate attacks _ came just two days after gunmen in Baghdad held a Christian congregation hostage in a siege that ended with 58 people dead. Tuesday morning, hundreds of Christians gathered at a downtown church to mourn their lost brethren. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the coordination of the blasts, the complexity of the operation and the predominantly Shia targets point to al-Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents. Iraq has been plagued by conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslim sects since the 2003 collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which was dominated by the minority Sunnis. It was supplanted by a Shia-dominated government that remains in power until today. The bombings began at about 6:15 pm. The assailants used booby-trapped cars, roadside bombs, mortars and at least one suicide bomber on a motorcycle. Though most of the neighborhoods hit were Shia-dominated, a couple struck Sunni neighborhoods as well. The attacks stretched from one side of Baghdad to the other and were spread out over hours, indicating a high degree of coordination and complexity from an insurgency that just a few months ago US and Iraqi officials were saying was all but defeated. The casualty information all came from police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.