A series of car bombs in Baghdad killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 100 on Thursday, with one exploding near the “Green Zone” diplomatic complex, the latest attacks in some of the worst violence in years.
Iraqi police sources said one bomb exploded just 200-300 meters outside Baghdad’s international zone, close to Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, killing four and wounding 12 people, the sources said.
The central zone is a highly-fortified area housing Western embassies including the US mission and the nearby Iraqi ministry has been a frequent target of attacks.
Militant groups, including al-Qaeda, have increased attacks in recent months in an insurgency against the government, raising fears of a return to full-blown conflict after US troops withdrew 18 months ago.
Since the start of the year, attacks using multiple car bombs have become an almost daily occurrence, killing scores of people in Iraq, including during a religious holiday last weekend when bombers targeted families celebrating outside.
The government has launched a security sweep to try to round up suspected militants and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday the crackdown would continue.
Bombers targeted districts in central, eastern, northern and southern Baghdad, police said.
In the single deadliest attack, a car bomb exploded at a bus station in the Kadhimiyah area of north Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 24.
An attack in Baladiyat, eastern Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 17 when a car bomb exploded near a traffic police station.
“Windows were smashed and my children started screaming and running everywhere, smoke and dust filled my house,” said a man wounded by flying shards of glass. He declined to be named.
“The politicians are responsible for the deterioration in security,” he said.
Another attack in al-Shurta al-Rabaa district used a bomb on the trailer of a tractor carrying gas cylinders. It killed four and wounded 18, police said.
In Husseiniya, a district on the northeastern outskirts of Baghdad, three people were killed and fourteen wounded when a minibus driver left his vehicle armed with a bomb in a repair shop.
The violence came a day after attacks including a blast at a cafe north of the capital killed 17 people.
Another wave of attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant struck areas across Iraq on Saturday, killing 74 people, among them 47 in Baghdad.
On Wednesday, Maliki said security forces would continue large-scale efforts to hunt militants.
“The operation that we started in chasing terrorists, and those who stand behind them, will continue until we protect our people,” Maliki said.
He said more than 800 alleged militants had been detained and dozens of others killed, and that security forces had destroyed militant infrastructure used to make car bombs and seized a large amounts of weapons and explosives.
The premier did not, however, specify when the arrests were made, where the operations took place or who had carried them out.
Security forces have for weeks been carrying out wide-ranging operations in multiple provinces including Baghdad, after brazen July assaults on two major prisons, claimed by the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant.
Hundreds of inmates were freed in the well-coordinated attacks, among them some said to be senior militants, raising fears that the escapes will bolster armed groups in Iraq.
But despite the regular announcements of the killing or capture of fighters in recent weeks, attacks still plague daily life.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)