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String of Bombings in Iraq Underscores Fragile Situation

A string of suicide bombings in Iraq on Thursday and Friday killed more than 100 people and sparked concerns of new waves of violence across the country. A reporter in Baghdad updates the story.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Two women blew themselves up in Baghdad today, killing dozens of people. It was the latest in a new string of deadly attacks across Iraq. Jeffrey Brown has our lead story report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    It was an all-too-familiar scene for Iraqis in recent days, a cleanup crew sweeping up debris after an attack.

    Today's back-to-back suicide bombings targeted worshippers as they headed to Friday prayers outside Baghdad's main Shiite shrine. The site has been a frequent target.

  • MAJ. GEN. JIHAD AL-JABIRI, Interior Ministry (through translator):

    Two leather bags were full of explosives and linked by wires. They were carried by the suicide bombers. The blast killed 60 and wounded more than 100 others.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The shrine is located in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah. It draws pilgrims from around the Middle East, and 25 of the dead today were from Iran.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation, and he suspended the commanders in charge of security in the area.

    Elsewhere, funerals were held for some of those killed yesterday in Baghdad and Muqdadiyah, just to the north. Nearly 90 people died in two attacks, one of them targeting Iraqis in line for food aid. It was the country's deadliest day in more than a year.

    In Washington today, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in the Middle East, said Tunisian militants were behind several recent attacks. He spoke at a House hearing dotted with protesters.

  • GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, Commander, U.S. Central Command:

    We do know, for example, that a network that provides foreign fighters from Tunisia through Syria to Iraq was reactivated or re-established after the foreign fighter network inside Iraq was damaged very significantly over the course of the last six months or so. And we know that, for example, four of the suicide bombers in the past couple of weeks were Tunisians.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The uptick in violence comes as the streets of Baghdad had appeared safer in the last year, with residents returning to normal activities, from zoo visits to weddings.

    The attacks also coincide with U.S. troops beginning to pack up and leave, all part of the gradual drawdown of American forces.

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