Coordinated Bombings Kill Dozens at Shiite Sites in Iraq

BY Larisa Epatko  April 23, 2010 at 3:21 PM EDT

Bombing aftermath in Sadr City in Baghdad. Photo by Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

A series of apparently coordinated explosions near Shiite mosques and the offices of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 150 in Iraq on Friday.

The violence came within a week of Iraqi authorities announcing the deaths of two top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, which officials called a significant blow to the terrorist affiliate.

It also comes while the country is awaiting results of a vote recount from May 7 elections that gave former prime minister Ayad Allawi’s coalition a slim majority in parliament over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s alliance.

The attacks on Friday — at least 10 car bombs and roadside improvised explosive devices — took place within a two-hour time span.

Although there were no immediate claims of responsibility, officials had warned about extremists launching violent acts in an attempt to stoke sectarian conflict within the country.

The deadliest attack occurred outside Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s compound in the slum of Sadr City in Baghdad when at least two car bombs exploded just as Friday prayers were ending, killing 27 people. As people were fleeing, two more bombs exploded in the parking area, police and witnesses said, according to the Associated Press.

Other explosions struck the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah, killing one person and wounding 12; a Shiite mosque in the northern Hurriyah neighborhood, where eight people were killed and 36 wounded; and the eastern neighborhood of Amin al-Thaniyah, killing 14 and injuring 36.

The BBC posted a series of photos on the blasts’ aftermath.

Seven more people died when a series of explosions struck homes in the mostly Sunni province of Anbar in the west, reported the New York Times.