Series of bombings across Iraq leaves dozens dead

A SERIES of bombings and shootings has killed at least 82 people across Iraq in the deadliest day so far this year.

The attacks came days after the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq warned it was reorganising in areas from which it retreated before US troops left the country last December.

The latest violence in 12 Iraqi cities and towns appeared coordinated.

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The blasts all took place within a few hours of each other. They struck mostly at security forces and government officials - two of al-Qaeda’s favourite targets in Iraq.

“It was a thunderous explosion,” said Mohammed Munim, 35, who was working at an Interior Ministry office that issues government ID cards to residents in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City district when a car exploded outside. Sixteen people were killed in the single attack.

“The only thing I remember was the smoke and fire, which was everywhere, he said from his bed at Sadr City hospital after being hit by shrapnel in his neck and back.

The worst attack happened in the town of Taji, 12 miles from the capital. Bombs planted around five houses in the Sunni town exploded an hour after dawn, killing 17. Police who rushed to the scene to help were hit by a suicide bomber in the crowd, killing another 11.

And in an attack on Iraq’s military, three carloads of gunmen pulled up at an army base near the town of town of Udaim and started firing at forces. Thirteen soldiers were killed, and the gunmen escaped before they could be caught.

The overall toll made it the deadliest day in Iraq since US troops left in mid-December.

Last weekend the leader of al Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq warned it was returning to strongholds from which it was driven from while the American military was here.