[QODLink]
Middle East
Triple bomb blasts rock Baghdad
At least 37 people killed and 71 injured in explosions near hotels in the Iraqi capital.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2010 23:13 GMT

Critics say Iraq's security forces are ill-equipped, not organised and may have been infiltrated [Reuters]

At least 37 people have been killed in three suicide car bombings, which took place within 10 minutes of each other, near hotels in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, police said.

At least 71 other people were wounded in the blasts, which came during rush hour on Monday.

The blasts happened close to the Sheraton and Palestine Hotels in the centre of the city, and the Babil hotel in the south.

The hotels are located outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, where many government and international agencies are situated.

Ahmed Rushdi, a journalist in Baghdad, said the hotels appeared to be the targets of the blasts.

"These hotels were supposed to have major security because it's open for all the foreign journalists," he told Al Jazeera.

"Targeting these major hotels means that everyone here in Baghdad is targeted."

Infiltration fears

Alaa Makki, an Iraqi member of parliament, told Al Jazeera that legislators have called on Iraqi security forces to do more to fortify the capital.

"We have criticised the security ministry and ministers and the leader of the armed forces in the last session and we were waiting for them to do something about the security situation," he said.

"The area indicates that there might have been infiltration in the security forces, because those areas attacked were so secure and isolated. They were in the secure Green Zone where some TV channels and a hotel with VIPs going regularly are.

"So, there is criticism that there have been infiltrations in the forces, that they are not well-organised and unequipped to control security here."

'Signature of al-Qaeda'

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Saad al-Mutalabi, an adviser to the Iraqi council of ministers, blamed the blasts on al-Qaeda.

"We heard three large explosions in central Baghdad, and it became clear that the bombs targeted three of the large hotels in Baghdad," he told Al Jazeera.

"It may be a signal that al-Qaeda is trying to say that they are against the economic build-up in Iraq because the Iraqi government is keen on expanding the economy this year.

"It is a signature of al-Qaeda. I don't think any of the political forces in Iraq would commit such an atrocity. It would not benefit any of them."

While overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply following years of sectarian conflict that killed tens of thousands of people, bombings and assassinations still occur on a daily basis.

US and Iraqi officials have said they expect attacks to rise before parliamentary elections scheduled for March 7.

Al-Majid executed

The blasts came on the same day that Ali Hassan al-Majid, the cousin of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was executed in Iraq for crimes against humanity.

The blasts went off near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone [AFP]
Al-Majid, nicknamed "Chemical Ali", was sentenced to death last week for his role in the 1988 massacre of Kurds in Halabja, in which up to 5,000 people were killed.

He was executed by hanging on Monday, a government spokesman said.

Ahmed Chalabi, the former head of Iraq's de-Baathification Commission and current head of the Iraqi Congress Party, said it was not clear if the execution and the bombings were related.

"I cannot speculate on this issue," he told Al Jazeera.

"I believe that the explosions are connected to al-Qaeda in Iraq and I believe that this calls for extra vigilance to eliminate those from any role in the political life in Iraq."

Meanwhile, Ali al-Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said the latest bombings "represent an extension" of the activities of fighters linked to Saddam's government.

But he stopped short of calling the blasts a possible revenge attack for the execution, The Associated Press news agency reported.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
join our mailing list