Egypt Independent

34 killed as explosions rock Baghdad



Baghdad–Five large blasts rocked Baghdad killing at least 34 people on Tuesday, two days after deadly bombings in the capital sparked concern insurgents are making a comeback due to a political impasse.

The explosions took place in mostly Shia neighborhoods in the capital, including a suicide bombing at a popular restaurant in Allawi, near Haifa street in central Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

A defense ministry official said at least 34 people were killed and 35 others wounded in the blasts.

Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad’s operations command center, said after the blasts Tuesday "we are in a state of war with the remains of al-Qaeda."

He said terrorists are trying to disrupt security and the political process in Iraq, where parties are struggling for form a new government after the March 7 election produced no clear winner.
 
Ambulance sirens were heard across the city as emergency service workers rushed to the scene, and a large plume of smoke rose from near the bombed restaurant.

Dozens of passersby gathered at the site of a blast, close to a secondary school, to sort through the rubble in a bid to rescue survivors.

"I was picking up bricks and sand to find victims, and just when I succeeded to remove the rubble, the man I saw died," said 25-year-old Mustafa.

"His wife came to me to see if I had seen him, and I told her he died."

A 30-something woman was at the scene screaming, "Mother, mother, answer me!" in the hopes that her mother, trapped underneath the collapsed building, would respond.

Along with the Allawi blast, the interior ministry official said a building collapsed in the north Baghdad neighborhood of Shuala, while two were destroyed in Chikouk, a camp for internally-displaced persons.

A fifth blast took place in Shurta Rabiyah, west Baghdad.

The latest explosions come after three suicide vehicle bombings minutes apart targeting regional and European embassies killed 30 people and wounded more than 200 on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who said Sunday’s attacks bore the signature of al-Qaeda, attributed those bombings to groups who wanted to derail the formation of a new government.

"This is a political attack, aimed at derailing the process, sending a message that the terrorists are still in business," Zebari said.

"Because of the vacuum of forming the next government, they wanted to send that message."

Sitting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance finished with 89 seats in the 325-member parliament after March 7 parliamentary elections, two fewer than ex-premier Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc.

Allawi, however, has accused Iran of seeking to prevent him becoming prime minister again by inviting all major parties except his secular bloc to Tehran.

Security officials had warned that protracted coalition building could give insurgents an opportunity to further destabilize the country.

The latest violence follows a Saturday attack south of Baghdad blamed on Al-Qaeda in which security officials said 25 villagers linked to an anti-Qaeda militia were rounded up and shot execution-style by men in army uniforms.

Although the frequency of attacks by insurgents has dropped significantly since peaking in 2006 and 2007, figures released on Thursday showed 367 Iraqis were killed in violence last month — the highest number this year.