Dozens Killed, Hundreds Injured in Iraq Pre-Election Attacks
Scores of Iraqis were killed and hundreds more injured in a wave of bombing and shooting attacks across the war-torn nation on Monday.
The attacks were related to upcoming provincial elections, the first since the US military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. The death toll has been placed at anywhere from at least 55 to as high as 75. At least 300 people were injured.
In Baghdad, eight bombings in seven neighborhoods across the city left 30 dead and 92 wounded, AFP reports. One of the attacks was a car bombing in a crowded parking area.
“There were several people, buses and private cars in the parking area when the explosion went off,” witness Abu Ali told AFP. “It happened all of a sudden, and several people were killed and wounded. Some of the buses went straight to the airport to avoid more attacks.”
The AP reports that a bomb blast at a bus station in the eastern suburb of Kamaliya killed four people and wounded another 13. Four more were killed and 15 wounded when an explosion devastated a market and a bus station in the Umm al-Maalif neighborhood. A roadside bomb in the Karrada commercial district killed two and injured 15, while in Shurta, a car bomb claimed another two lives and wounded nine. Five police officers were wounded when another roadside bomb blasted their patrol in the eastern Baladiyat neighborhood.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, a series of six bombings killed nine and wounded 79, the AP reports. Three blasts rocked the downtown area of the city, each of them in a different ethnic neighborhood– one in an Arab district, one in a Kurdish area, and one in a Turkomen neighborhood.
Further north in Mosul, numerous attacks resulted in casualties. Among the dead are a married couple and a soldier, AntiWar.com reports.
In Fallujah, two police officers were slain in a suicide car bomb attack. Six more officers were wounded in an attack on a checkpoint. One person was shot dead in a separate attack, and two people were killed in yet another bombing.
Attacks in Mussayab, Tikrit, Nasariya, Buhriz, Ramadi, Tarmiya, Khalis, Tal Abta and Sabeen killed at least 17 more people, with many more wounded in these and other cities and towns.
Monday’s attacks were the worst hit Iraq since a wave of bombings killed dozens and wounded hundreds in Baghdad last month.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Monday’s deadly attacks, but according to Reuters, al-Qaeda militants have been engaged in a campaign of violence against the Iraqi government and Shi’ites, with the goal of stoking sectarian tensions. The upcoming elections, in which 450 provincial council seats are up for grabs, is seen as a test of Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s power as the nation heads toward parliamentary elections next year. Reuters reports that a dozen candidates have already been killed during the current campaign.
Many Iraqis blamed the attacks on authorities for not providing sufficient security ahead of next week’s elections.
“I blame those who call themselves politicians in government [and] the security forces… for this bad security situation,” Baghdad teacher Qassim Saad told RT. “They are doing nothing to help the people, and are only looking out for their benefits.”
Violence and instability have plagued Iraq for a decade. The US-led invasion and occupation ushered in an era of sectarian strife, and the American withdrawal led to an upsurge in attacks. It is estimated that at least 112,000 Iraqis have died since the March 2003 invasion.
Much of Iraq is still struggling to rebuild in the wake of a decade of war. Millions of Iraqis still don’t have reliable access to safe drinking water, electricity, sanitation, health care, education or employment.