40 people killed in IRAQ Bombing
BAGHDAD — A wave of attacks in Baghdad Thursday killed 40 people as Iraq faced a political crisis, with its vice president accused of running death squads and the premier warning he could break off power-sharing.
The apparently coordinated blasts, which left nearly 150 people wounded, were the first major sign of violence in a crisis that has threatened the country’s fragile political truce and heightened sectarian tensions just days after US forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq.
The attacks, the deadliest in more than four months, largely coincided with the morning rush hour, and security forces cordoned off bomb sites, AFP correspondents and officials said.
Iraqi helicopters could be heard hovering overhead at many of the blast sites and emergency response vehicles rushed to the scene of attacks, while tightened security at checkpoints worsened Baghdad’s already choking traffic.
The attacks came in the Allawi, Bab al-Muatham and Karrada districts of central Baghdad, the Adhamiyah, Shuala and Shaab neighbourhoods in the north, Jadriyah in the east, Ghazaliyah in the west and Al-Amil and Dura in the south, the officials said.
Health ministry spokesman Ziad Tariq put the toll at 40 dead and 149 wounded in 10 attacks. An interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been 11 attacks.
Thursday’s violence was the worst since August 15, when 74 people were killed and more than 200 people wounded in a series of attacks that struck 17 Iraqi cities.
The attacks come with Iraqi politicians at loggerheads over a warrant issued for the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanding that Kurdish authorities hand over the Sunni Arab leader, who is holed up in their autonomous region. Hashemi denies the charges.
Maliki has also called for his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlak, who belongs to the same Iraqiya bloc as Hashemi, to be sacked after he described the Shiite-led government as a “dictatorship”.
Iraqiya, meanwhile, has boycotted parliament and the cabinet, and Maliki has threatened to replace their ministers in the year-old unity government.
Washington has urged calm, with the crisis coming just days after US troops completed their withdrawal, leaving behind what President Barack Obama had described as a “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.”