Bombings in Iraq kill 65 a decade after invasion
The apparently coordinated attacks around the country included car bombs and explosives stuck to the underside of vehicles. They targeted government security forces and mainly Shiite areas.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Iraqi officials believe al-Qaida's Iraq arm is to blame. The terror group favors car bombs and coordinated bombings to undermine public confidence in the government. It has claimed it was behind two large-scale, well-coordinated attacks already this month, including an assault on the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad last week that left 30 dead.
Sabah al-Nuaman, a spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism services, said al-Qaida is trying to exploit political instability in the country. He also linked the violence to the civil war across the border in Syria, where largely Sunni rebels - some with ties to al-Qaida - are trying to topple President Bashar Assad.
"The terrorist groups are trying to move their operations back to Iraq. They want to make Iraq part of the regional struggle," al-Nuaman said.
The violence started around 8 a.m., when a bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood, killing four people, according to police and hospital officials. It blew out the eatery's windows and left several cars mangled in the blood-streaked street.
The deadliest attack was a 10 a.m. car bombing near the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Baghdad's Qahira neighborhood. Seven people were killed.
Another car bomb exploded outside a restaurant near one of the main gates to the fortified Green Zone, which houses major government offices and the U.S. and British embassies. Six people died, including two soldiers. Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the area as ambulances raced to the scene.
At one point amid the chaos, authorities shut bridges spanning the Tigris River in the capital, hoping to thwart further attacks.
Car bombings, roadside blasts, suicide attacks and other mayhem were reported in other parts of the capital as well as in Taji, Tarmiyah, Baqouba and Iskandiriya. In the northern city of Mosul, a local police commander was killed along with two bodyguards by a suicide bomber.
The U.S. and Britain, the two countries that contributed the bulk of the troops for the 2003 war effort, condemned the attacks.
"The vast majority of Iraqis want to leave behind the violence of the past to build a peaceful and prosperous country," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
Amid the political tensions, Iraq's Cabinet decided Tuesday to postpone next month's local elections in two provinces dominated by Sunnis.
Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr blasted the decision and threatened to withdraw his bloc's support from the government.
"Staying in this government has become harmful and not useful at all," he said.
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