Al-Qaeda Kills Dozens in Multiple Attacks in Baghdad

Al Qaeda is blamed for a series of attacks Tuesday in Baghdad. Insurgents, who have killed more than 100 in the past week, seek to exploit the delay in forming a new Iraq government after last month’s election.

Multiple blasts tore through apartment buildings and residential areas of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing scores and coming on the heels of coordinated bombings Sunday as Iraq’s politicians jockey for power in the aftermath of elections that left control of the government up for grabs.

The Associated Press reports that five to seven bombs were detonated throughout the capital, killing at least 39 and wounding more than 130. It was the most recent of four attacks over the past five days that have killed more than 100 people.

Agence France-Presse reports that the explosions targeted mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad, while Al Jazeera reports that the areas were a mix of Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods. Some observers had feared that a protracted political stalemate in Iraq would lead to intensified sectarian attacks.

Early casualty counts were uneven as rescuers searched for survivors. AP reports that Iraqi officials claimed seven blasts, while the US Embassy in Baghdad said there were five. Reuters reports that seven buildings were destroyed in the blasts, and reported the death toll was at least 28.

Violence has risen in Iraq since elections on March 7, which gave Iyad Allawi – the secular Shiite leader of the Iraqiya coalition – a slight lead, but not enough seats to take control of the government outright. Parties are now attempting to form coalitions with enough support to lead the government, and some had worried about sectarian attacks as the negotiations went on. Mr. Allawi told the AP that Monday’s violence was connected to the political situation.

“This is blamed on the power vacuum, of course,” Allawi told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday, saying “extreme forces” are trying to exploit the political uncertainty.

Qassim Atta, a security spokesman, blamed the attacks on Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia “We are in a state of war with what remains of Al Qaeda,” he told Iraq state television, reports The New York Times. But Reuters reports that a security official also blamed the attack on Baathists.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi blamed the wave of attacks since Friday on remnants of Al Qaeda and supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and his outlawed Baath Party. […]

“We are in a battleground and we have to expect any type of attack,” he said on state-run television.

The fresh attacks come after coordinated explosions Sunday that struck foreign diplomatic missions in Baghdad and killed 30 people and wounded more than 200. AFP reports that Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said those attacks were also an attempt to disrupt the attempts to create a governing coalition.

“This is a political attack, aimed at derailing the process, sending a message that the terrorists are still in business,” Zebari told AFP on Sunday.

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

McClatchy Newspapers argue that such violence will make it more difficult to resolve Iraq’s political deadlock.

The blasts surely will color the intense political negotiations that are under way after the March 7 parliamentary election, raising questions about which candidates have the security credentials and the ability to cut across sectarian lines to lead a still-unstable Iraq after US troops withdraw by the end of next year.