More than 70 killed in attacks across Iraq
More than 70 people were killed and dozens more were wounded Monday in a string of violent attacks around Iraq, one of the deadliest days in the country so far this year, police and government officials said.
In the worst incident, two bombs exploded in a busy market in the city center of Kut, killing at least 37 and injuring more than 50.
Car bombs also detonated in the northern city of Kirkuk and the pricey Mansour district of Baghdad. Elsewhere, AK-47 wielding assailants targeted anti-terror leaders in Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad.
The attacks came after a period of relative quiet in the country, which had descended as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began in early August.
Lt. Col. Hachem Neama Abbas, an Iraqi army commander in Baghdad, said the military had been bracing for a new round of violence. The attacks, he said, are proof that insurgents still pose a threat to the country’s stability. They also raise questions about the Iraqi government’s ability to maintain security as American troops prepare to leave the country by December.
“This wave of explosions and attacks is evidence that al-Qaeda is still effective,” Abbas said.
Iraq is debating whether or not to ask a small contingent of U.S. forces to stay past the deadline, but no official request has been made yet, U.S. officials have said.
A spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, Major Angela L. Funaro, said that while it was too early to speculate on the groups behind the day's violence, it was “eerily similar” to a large-scale attack last year during Ramadan. Then, al-Qaeda insurgents targeted checkpoints and Iraqi forces in several cities, killing at least 53.