Insurgents Unleash Multiple Bomb Attacks in Iraq

Most of the killed and wounded were reportedly Iraqi police and national guard soldiers. One suicide bomber struck a hospital where wounded from previous attacks had been taken. Another attacker reportedly used an ambulance packed with explosives to ambush an Iraqi patrol.

Nine of the attacks occurred in or around Baghdad and two in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

At least some of the attacks appeared to be coordinated. Iraq police said four suicide bombers in separate cars simultaneously hit different targets in the Azamiyah section of central Baghdad. All four struck Iraqi police or military units.

The attacks came one day after Iraq’s newly elected parliament formed a government and prepared to begin work on a constitution. The new cabinet ministers reflect the country’s diverse sectarian population, but no Sunnis were named to top jobs.

Many Sunnis have boycotted participation in the political process and U.S. officials and reporters in Iraq have said Sunni areas are a breeding ground for the insurgency.

In a tape posted on the Internet, a man claiming to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has waged terrorist attacks in Iraq, took responsibility for Friday’s bombings and urged his followers to continue attacking Americans and the Iraqi government.

“You, Bush, we will not rest until we avenge our dignity,” the voice said. “We will not rest while your army is here as long as there is a pulse in our veins.”

The man on the tape also warned against engaging in dialogue with U.S. or coalition officials, who have searched for ways to bring more of the disaffected Sunni minority and others into the political process.

The man claiming to be al-Zarqawi called any overtures “the devil’s tricks.”

As the Iraq police searched for perpetrators, a deputy of al-Zarqawi, Sunni cleric Imam Abdul Razaq Rashid Hamid, reportedly emerged from a mosque and threw a hand grenade at police before blowing himself up with another.

“We see these attacks as another desperate attempt by the terrorists to discredit the newly formed Iraqi government,” the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement, adding the violence was failing “to drive a wedge between the Iraqi people and their right to choose their own destiny.”