Al-Qaeda Claims Eid Bombings in Iraq
August 12, 2013
Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq, the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," has claimed responsibility for a wave of bomb attacks that killed 74 people and injured hundreds during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The group said it orchestrated Saturday's car bombings and other attacks across Iraq in response to operations by Iraqi security forces.
The Al-Qaeda statement also threatened that Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq "will not dream of security during the night or day, during Eid or other" days.
Most of Saturday's attacks targeted crowded cafes and markets, or were near mosques, in predominantly Shi'ite areas.
Authorities raised the death toll to 74 on Sunday -- confirming that Saturday was the deadliest day in Iraq during Ramadan this year and one of the deadliest days in the country in the past six years.
They also say more than 800 people were killed during the Islamic holy month this year, making it the bloodiest Ramadan in Iraq since 2007 when sectarian violence was at its peak.
Iraqis have been voicing frustration with the government and security forces for failing to prevent the Eid bombings.
On Sunday, security forces tightened searches at checkpoints in Baghdad, causing long traffic jams.
Nevertheless, nine more Iraqis were killed in fresh violence across the country Sunday.
Violence in Iraq, which appears to be sectarian, has increased markedly this year.
Analysts say the upsurge is the result of anger among the country's Sunni Arab minority over the Shi'ite-led government's failure to address Sunni concerns – despite months of protests.
Recently published Iraqi government figures reveal that the July death toll from violence across the country nearly topped 1,000.
The violence comes just weeks after Al-Qaeda assaults on prisons near Baghdad freed hundreds of prisoners, including leading militants, prompting warnings of a possible surge in terrorist attacks.
The U.S. State Department condemned the perpetrators of the Eid bombings as 'enemies of Islam.'
Washington also reiterated that the U.S. government is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the killing or capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Al-Qaeda front group.
Thought to be sheltering in Syria, Baghdadi also has claimed personal credit for orchestrating a series of terrorist attacks in Iraq since 2011.
Those attacks include the recent storming of Abu Ghraib prison, a suicide bombing on the Ministry of Justice, and other attacks against Iraqi security forces and citizens.
Based on reports by AP, Reuters, and AFP.
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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