Spate of attacks kills 107 across Iraq
By Kareem Raheem
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 107 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks in Iraq on Monday, a day after 20 died in explosions, in a coordinated surge of violence against mostly Shi'ite Muslim targets.
The bloodshed, which coincided with an intensifying of the conflict in neighboring Syria, pointed up the deficiencies of the Iraqi security forces, which failed to prevent insurgents from striking in multiple locations across the country.
As well as the scores of deaths, at least 268 people were wounded by bombings and shootings in Shi'ite areas of Baghdad, the Shi'ite town of Taji to the north, the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul and many other places, hospital and police sources said, making it one of Iraq's bloodiest days in weeks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the wave of assaults but a senior Iraqi security official blamed the local wing of al Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim militants hostile to the Shi'ite-led government, which is friendly with Iran.
"Recent attacks are a clear message that al Qaeda in Iraq is determined to spark a bloody sectarian war," the official said, asking not to be named.
"With what's going on in Syria, these attacks should be taken seriously as a potential threat to our country. Al Qaeda is trying to push Iraq to the verge of Shi'ite-Sunni war," he said. "They want things to be as bad as in Syria."
Iraq, whose desert province of Anbar, a Sunni heartland, borders Syria, is nervous about the impact of the conflict in its neighbor where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to end President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite-dominated rule.
The Iraqi government said on Monday it rejected Arab League calls for Assad to quit, saying it was for the Syrian people alone to decide his fate and others "should not interfere". Continued...