Bombings in Baghdad, Baqouba Kills Dozens
In the first attack, at least one car bomb detonated around 8 a.m. in a busy Baghdad market as a busload of schoolgirls passed by, the Associated Press reported. When a crowd gathered around the wreckage to help the wounded, a suicide bomber ignited another bomb.
Both attacks occurred in the crowded Kasrah market in the Sunni-controlled but Shiite-populated neighborhood of Adhamiya.
Grocery store owner Ahmed Riyadh, who witnessed the violence, said the attacks “did not differentiate between Shiites and Sunnis,” the AP reported. “We are fed up with such attacks and we want only to live in peace.”
Also Monday morning, another suicide bomber, this time a 13-year-old girl, deployed an explosive at a security checkpoint in downtown Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province.
That attack killed five and wounded 15, according to the AP. Among those killed was a local leader of an anti al-Qaida Sunni group. The checkpoint was manned by members of Sunni Awakening Councils.
Together, the attacks spell the deadliest assault on Iraqi citizens in months and are in line with rising violence in recent weeks, the BBC reported.
On Sunday, a bomb exploded in a garbage can near a Baghdad public health center, killing two and injuring 13, the AP reported. At a hospital in Anbar province near Fallujah, another suicide bomber took her own life and killed two women and a 10-year-old girl.
Official reports show conflicting numbers for the number killed and wounded in the attacks. The Iraqi Interior Ministry estimated at least 20 dead and 70 wounded, while the U.S. military reported 8 dead and 48 wounded.
The office of the top U.N. representative in Iraq said the bombings were “detestable,” calling them “repugnant crimes aimed at re-instilling fear, distrust and division among the public just as Iraq prepares itself to assume political normalcy with the upcoming provincial elections.”
The long-awaited provincial elections are set for Jan. 31. U.S. officials in the region have heralded the elections as a critical step to establishing stability in the region, but Syrian president Bashar Assad said Sunday the continued U.S. presence and the increased power of the Iraqi military are contributing to rising violence.
Assad mentioned a recent American cross-border raid into Syria, saying “the latest aggression on Syrian territory shows that the presence of American occupation forces constitutes a source of continuous threat to the security of Iraq’s neighboring states and a factor of instability in the region,” the AP reported.
U.S. officials have accused both Syria and Iraq of harboring terrorists, a claim both countries have denied.