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Government Braces for More Suicide Bombings
Al-Qaeda, Baathists, and "Enemies of Tehran-Baghdad Relations" are Blamed
By DANIEL W. SMITH 04/24/2009 7:47 PM ET
Google Earth image/Iraqslogger

High-casualty suicide bombings in the past two days have had a combined death toll of over 150, with total casualties of around 400. Headlines seem like they are lifted right out of the hyper-violent years of 2006 or 2007, and many fear their return.

According to a high-level Iraqi official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, security forces are bracing for a sustained barrage of suicide bombings. Instead of the smaller bombs targeting police or government officials which have been common in the past year, large, coordinates bombings aimed at crowds of civilians are expected. This has certainly been the case on Thursday, in Baghdad’s Karrada district and Imam Wess in Diyala, and on Friday at Baghdad’s Imam Moussa al-Kadhim Shrine in al-Kadhimiya. Almost all bombings in the past weeks have been in Sunni neighborhoods. Along with the oft-mentioned signature of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the suicide bomber.

When asked who was responsible, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta told Iraqslogger on Friday, “They are what is left of the terrorist cells, and the pro-Baath – these are the ones who orchestrated these attacks, and killed innocent civilians. They are trying to return to the arena. We say that we will not allow them to return."

Atta continued, “What happened yesterday proves that the battle with terror is still on going on, and there are still some active cells that will try to shake the stability. We expect that our government and our political leadership, will achieve important gains - the American withdrawal, the election of districts and provinces, the census, and the parliamentary election - these things were considered hits on terrorist cells. These cells want to effect the American withdrawal, and the gains I have just mentioned.”

Sadrist MP Ahmed al-Masoudi
Photo: Daniel W. Smith
Sadrist MP Ahmed al-Masoudi
Also on Friday, Sadrist MP Ahmed al-Masoudi accused both Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Baathist elements for the spate of bombings, according to Aswat al-Iraq. “The escalated attacks come after the Iraqi people rejected recent calls by the Iraqi head of government regarding the Baathists’ return to politics in the country, particularly in light of security information which speaks to the coordination between al-Qaeda and figures of the former regime.”

Over seventy of the dead from Diyala on Thursday, and in al-Kadhimiya on Friday were Iranian pilgrims, traveling to holy Shi’a sites in Iraq. On Friday, Iranian-State news website IRNA had a press release with quotes from Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi, who condemned Friday’s attacks and said they have been carried out by “enemies of Tehran-Baghdad relations.” He said, "Some are trying to weaken the deep historical and growing ties between the two nations of Iran and Iraq and to justify the illegitimate presence of foreigners with the continuation of insecurity in this country and in the region."

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