Al-Qaeda in Iraq says it carried out bombings

AL-QAEDA in Iraq has claimed it was behind the wave of attacks that ripped through markets, cafés and government buildings in Baghdad last week, killing 69 people

The co-ordinated attacks struck a dozen mostly Shiite areas on Thursday, in the first major bloodshed since US troops completed a full withdrawal this month, after nearly nine years.

The bombings coincided with a government crisis that has again strained ties between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites to breaking point.

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The claim of responsibility made no mention of the withdrawal of US troops. Instead, it focused its rage on the country’s Shiite-dominated leadership, which Sunni insurgents have battled since it came to power as a result of the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“The series of special invasions [was] launched … to support the weak Sunnis in the prisons of the apostates and to retaliate for the captives who were executed,” the statement said.

It said the attacks were proof they “know where and when to strike and the mujahideen will never stand with their hands tied while the pernicious Iranian project shows its ugly face”.

The remark was a reference to accusations by Sunni militants that Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government has allied itself too closely with neighbouring Shiite power Iran, a bitter enemy of Iraq under Saddam.

Baghdad military spokesman Maj-Gen Qassim al-Moussawi said al-Qaeda in Iraq was hoping to take advantage of the political tension to re-ignite sectarian warfare. “It has become a clear scheme to draw Iraq into a sectarian war again,” he said. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq played a major role in 2005 and 2006 in pushing the county into a civil war and they succeeded.”