Iraqis hit out at government over deadly blasts

Angry residents blame senior officials, who remain silent, for failing to prevent attacks that see 80 killed, as people mark end of Ramadan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 9:16am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 11:11am


Iraqis angrily blamed the authorities yesterday for failing to head off attacks that killed nearly 80 people as they marked the Eid ul-Fitr holiday, ending Iraq's deadliest Ramadan in years.

The international community roundly condemned the violence, which also wounded more than 320 people, but almost all senior Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, made no mention of the attacks.

It was the latest in months of bloodshed that have sparked fears of a return to the all-out sectarian war that peaked in 2006 and 2007, and left tens of thousands dead.

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 security forces for failing to prevent the 16 car bombings and other attacks in Baghdad on Saturday.

Iraq's Interior Ministry said media reports about the attacks had been exaggerated in a way that would give a morale boost to attackers. It said 21 people had been killed across Iraq in the multiple attacks.

"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, 35, a cigarette seller.

Video: More than 60 dead as Iraqis mark end to lethal Ramadan

"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, causing long queues of traffic, a measure often used after deadly attacks, but which came too late for the dozens of victims.

And yet there was fresh violence yesterday with attacks south of Baghdad, north of the capital and in the northern city of Mosul killing six people, officials said.

The violence followed major security operations against militants that officials hailed as having resulted in the killing and capture of many.

On Saturday, a number of vehicles rigged with explosives were detonated in eight neighbourhoods of Baghdad, in apparently co-ordinated strikes. The blasts hit public markets, cafes and restaurants. More than 800 people died in attacks during the dawn-to-dusk fasting month of Ramadan, which began in the second week of July and ended last week.

Militants struck targets ranging from cafes to mosques.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press