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Middle East
Scores killed in Iraq blasts
At least 69 people killed in Iraq in a wave of bomb attacks across the country.
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2010 23:49 GMT
The attacks came during a period of political instability following Iraq's inconclusive election
 

At least 69 people have been killed and many more wounded in a series of attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, police say.

Two car bombs exploded at a market in Sadr City killing at least 39 people and injuring 56 others, while three separate car bombs and an improvised device killed at least 11 in the west and east of Baghdad, officials said on Friday.

Mike Hanna, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital, said four of the attacks were in Shia areas and two of them in Sunni neighbourhoods.

"At this time it would appear that the attacks are being targeted at the civilian population in general, rather than any sectarian basis," Hanna said.

He said that the political instability following Iraq's inconclusive election seemed to have sparked a wave of attacks.

"Iraq had been hoping to celebrate its democratic elections, but at the moment everybody is deeply concerned about this period of instability which it appears is being filled by violent acts," he said.

Roadside bombs

Earlier on Friday seven people were killed and 18 others wounded after six roadside bombs exploded in Iraq's western Anbar province.

The bombs went off near the houses of a judge and police officers in the town of Khalidiya, about 83km west of Baghdad.

"Four homes were hit by homemade bombs and C4 [plastic explosive]," Lieutenant Khoder Ahmed al-Alwani, a police officer, said.

Judge Fadhel Mahmud Saleh escaped unhurt from the explosion at his house, but two of his sons were wounded.

"This is the second assassination attempt against me this month. They put a sticky bomb on my car but it was discovered," he told an AFP news agency correspondent at the scene.

Soldier killed

An Iraqi soldier was among the dead, killed when security forces responded to the initial blasts.

An Iraqi man stands in rubble after six bombs exploded in Khaldiya on Friday [AFP]
 

He died after he stormed a house that was filled with explosives, General Baha al-Qaisi, Anbar's police chief, said.

"There was an explosion this morning in a house belonging to the terrorists in the Khaldiya district," he said.

"When we entered the premises, there was a second blast which caused the death of a soldier."

The police chief said they discovered a large store of explosives, but had "yet to recover the remains of the terrorists who were in the building". 

The rural Khalidiya area is dominated by Sunni Arabs and is the birthplace of the Sahwa, or Awakening, in which armed locals who once fought US forces switched sides to battle al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda hunt

The blasts come four days after a string of blows against al-Qaeda by Iraqi security forces.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, announced on April 19 that an Iraqi intelligence team had hunted down and killed Abu Ayub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported leader of al-Qaeda's local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq.

"It's impossible at this stage to say whether there is a connection between these killings ... and the bombings we are seeing in Baghdad," Al Jazeera's correspondent said.

"But at this stage it would appear to be an opportunistic attempt to take advantage of the ongoing political uncertainly because there is no agreement about forming a government.

Violence in Iraq has fallen in the last two years as the sectarian bloodshed that followed the 2003 US-led invasion faded, but tensions increased last month after a national election resulted in no clear winner.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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