Anger boils in Iraq after holiday attacks on cafes, markets kill dozens

Iraqis and policemen gather at the scene of an explosion in Nasiriyah, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 10 August 2013. (Photo: AFP)

Published Sunday, August 11, 2013

Iraqis angrily blamed authorities on Sunday for failing to prevent attacks that killed 74 people as they marked the end of Ramadan holiday.

The violence, which also wounded more than 320 people, was roundly condemned by the international community.

The attacks came just weeks after assaults on prisons near Baghdad, claimed by an al-Qaeda front group, freed hundreds of prisoners, including leading militants, prompting warnings of a surge in violence.

Iraqis voiced frustration with the government and the security forces for failing to prevent the 16 car bombings and other attacks which killed 74 people on Saturday, 47 of them in the capital.

There also remains deep resentment in Iraq towards the United States and its allies whose 2003 invasion completely shattered any sense of stability and security in place under the former regime.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were subsequently killed during the occupation of Iraq and its aftermath according to the most conservative estimates. The United Nations says Iraqis are now dying at a rate of about 1,000 a month due to the violence.

"There will not be any improvement in the Iraqi situation," said a man who gave his name as Abu Samer, near the site of a twin car bombing in Shaab, north Baghdad, where eight people were killed.

"I cannot trust any politicians, because they make many promises, and the result of their work is what happens in our country each day."

The 64-year-old retired agricultural engineer said he hoped to send his children overseas, "far from what is happening in Iraq and Baghdad."

In east Baghdad, at the site of another car bombing, Ali al-Shammari said Iraq's long-running political deadlock was to blame.

"The presence of one party and another opposed to it is much better than dozens of political parties, even if they say we are in a dictatorial regime, because it is much better than dozens of people being killed each day," said Shammari, a 35-year-old cigarette seller.

"I will never vote for another person again," the father-of-three continued. "How long should we live in this situation because of politicians?"

Security forces tightened searches at checkpoints in the capital, leading to long queues of traffic, a blunt measure often employed in the immediate aftermath of deadly attacks, albeit one that has largely failed to curb the violence.

New attacks on Sunday killed six people nationwide, officials said.

A roadside bomb killed three soldiers south of Baghdad, while gunmen shot dead two pro-government militiamen near Baquba, north of the capital, and police killed a man who drove through a checkpoint quickly in the northern city of Mosul.

Overall, more than 800 people were killed during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended last week, with the violence now at its deadliest since 2008, when Iraq was slowly emerging from brutal bloodletting.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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