Iraqis blame government for not stopping Eid attacks that kill over 70
BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
A boy looks at the site of a car bomb attack in the Shaab neighbourhood of northern Baghdad August 11, 2013. REUTERS PhotoIraqis angrily blamed the authorities on Sunday for failing to prevent attacks that killed 74 people as they marked the Eid al-Fitr holiday ending Iraq's bloodiest Ramadan in years.
The violence, which also wounded more than 320 people, was roundly condemned by the international community.
It was the latest in months of bloodshed that have sparked worries of a revival of the all-out sectarian war that peaked in 2006 and 2007 and left tens of thousands dead.
The attacks came just weeks after assaults on prisons near Baghdad, claimed by an Al-Qaeda front group, freed hundreds of prisoners, including leading militants, prompting warnings of a surge in violence.
Authorities, though, have highlighted major security operations which they say have led to the killing or capture of numerous militants.
Iraqis voiced frustration with the government and the security forces for failing to prevent the 16 car bombings and other attacks which killed 74 people on Saturday, 47 of them in the capital.
"There will not be any improvement in the Iraqi situation," said a man who gave his name as Abu Samer, near the site of a twin car bombing in Shaab, north Baghdad, where eight people were killed.
"I cannot trust any politicians, because they make many promises, and the result of their work is what happens in our country each day." The 64-year-old retired agricultural engineer said he hoped to send his children overseas, "far from what is happening in Iraq and Baghdad." In east Baghdad, at the site of another car bombing, Ali al-Shammari said Iraq's long-running political deadlock was to blame.
"The presence of one party and another opposed to it is much better than dozens of political parties, even if they say we are in a dictatorial regime, because it is much better than dozens of people being killed each day," said Shammari, a 35-year-old cigarette seller.
"I will never vote for another person again," the father-of-three continued. "How long should we live in this situation because of politicians?" Security forces tightened searches at checkpoints in the capital, leading to long queues of traffic, a blunt measure often employed in the immediate aftermath of deadly attacks, albeit one that has largely failed to curb the violence.
New attacks on Sunday killed seven people nationwide, officials said.
A roadside bomb killed three soldiers south of Baghdad, while gunmen shot dead two anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen near Baquba, north of the capital, and police killed a man who drove through a checkpoint quickly in the northern city of Mosul.
Overall, more than 800 people were killed during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended last week, with the violence now at its deadliest since 2008, when Iraq was slowly emerging from brutal bloodletting.
The US and UN condemned the latest attacks, with Washington reiterating a $10 million bounty for information leading to the killing or capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an Al-Qaeda front group.
"This carnage reflects the inhuman character of its perpetrators," said UN deputy special envoy to Baghdad Gyorgy Busztin.
New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Iraqi authorities to "end draconian responses" to attacks, including torture of suspects, coerced confessions and convictions based on secret testimony.
Saturday's violence came just weeks after attacks on prisons near the capital in which hundreds of inmates were freed.
Analysts, as well as global police organisation Interpol, had warned that the jailbreaks could lead to a rise in attacks, as the escapees were said to include senior Al-Qaeda militants.
The security forces meanwhile launched major operations against the militants in multiple provinces, including Baghdad, that are among the biggest since the December 2011 withdrawal of US forces.
But the violence has increased markedly this year, with analysts saying the upsurge is the result of anger among the Sunni Arab minority that the Shiite-led government has failed to address despite months of protests.