Bomb attacks kill at least 60 in Iraq

Updated: 2011-08-16 08:27

(China Daily)

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BAGHDAD - A string of suicide attackers and car bombs across Iraq on Monday killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 200, casting a shadow over a country where security remains turbulent just months before a scheduled US pullout by the year-end.

In the worst attack, a roadside bomb followed by a car bomb targeting police killed at least 37 people in Kut, a mainly Shiite Muslim city 150 kilometers southeast of the capital Baghdad, police and health officials said, according to Reuters.

Dhiyauddin Jalil, director of local provincial health department, said more than 68 people were wounded in the Kut blasts, and doctors in the city's main hospital said they were struggling to treat casualties, many with severe burns.

"These attacks ... are trying to influence the security situation and undermine confidence in the security forces," said Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad security operations, blaming al-Qaida-linked groups.

The violence, the deadliest in four months, was quickly condemned by parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, who blamed security leaders for unspecified "violations".

Dozens more were killed or wounded on Monday in bombings and attacks in other cities, puncturing the relative calm of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

At least eight people were killed and 14 wounded when a suicide car bomber attacked a municipality building in Khan Bani Saad, about 30 km northeast of Baghdad, in the province of Diyala, two police sources said on Monday.

Two suicide bombers attacked an Iraqi counter-terrorism unit in Tikrit, 150 km north of Baghdad, killing at least two policemen and wounding six in a failed attempt to free al-Qaida prisoners, a police official said.

In the southern holy Shiite city of Najaf, at least three people were killed and 19 more wounded when two car bombs exploded, authorities said. Police Captain Hadi al-Najafi in Najaf said the bombs targeted a police building.

Another man was killed and 12 people were wounded in simultaneous car and motorbike bombings in the center of the northeastern city of Kirkuk, police sources said.

The attacks follow a commitment Iraqi leaders made on Aug 3 to hold talks with Washington over a security training mission to last beyond 2011, when all 47,000 American soldiers must withdraw under the terms of a 2008 bilateral security pact, according to AFP.

The attacks in Iraq also came one day after a gun and suicide attack on an Afghan governor's compound killed 22 people on Sunday, the latest Taliban assault spotlighting the militants' power just outside the capital Kabul, AFP reported. The Taliban militia has claimed responsibility.

Gong Shaopeng, a professor with China Foreign Affairs University, said it is a consistent goal of al-Qaida and the Taliban to drive the Americans out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The purpose of the extremists is to oppose the intervention and occupation by US troops, said Yang Guang, head of the Institute of West Asia and Africa studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"We cannot say the presence of US troops guarantees local security, because the chaos in the region is caused by the US invasion," said Yang.

The US is deeply mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no ideal solution foreseeable at present, said Yang.

The country is now also caught in a dilemma: It is desperate to extricate itself from the conflict in the region, but it is unwilling to simply give up, he added.

"I do not believe the US will withdraw all its troops, and the timetable for withdrawal is difficult to follow in a real sense," Yang said.


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