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Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 22:50 UK

Iraqi PM orders security review

Aftermath of bombing in Baghdad, 19 August 2009
Wednesday's attacks killed 95 and injured more than 500

Iraq's prime minister has ordered a security review after the deadliest series of attacks in the country this year left 95 people dead in Baghdad.

Nouri Maliki called Wednesday's bombings "a desperate attempt to derail the political process" in Iraq.

They included two truck bombings close to government ministries located in a part of the capital which has generally not been targeted in recent months.

Iraqi forces took control of security in Baghdad from US troops in late June.

Though violence in the country has fallen since the peaks of 2006 and 2007, it continues to be the target of frequent bomb attacks.

Mr Maliki blamed the latest strikes on al-Qaida in Iraq and loyalists of the late president, Saddam Hussein, who was toppled after US-led forces invaded in 2003.

We must admit our mistakes, just as we celebrate our victories
Maj Gen Qassim al-Moussawi
Baghdad security spokesman

He said Iraqi security forces were "very capable of confronting terrorists", but acknowledged that a security review was necessary.

"The criminal operations that happened today no doubt call for a re-evaluation of our plans and our security methods to face the terrorist challenges," he said in a statement.

The prime minister also said insurgents had taken advantage of government efforts to restore normalcy by removing concrete blast walls from main roads in Baghdad.

"These attacks represent a reaction to the opening of streets and bridges and the lifting of barriers inside the residential areas," he said.

An Iraqi army spokesman said two al-Qaeda members had been arrested in Baghdad in connection with the attacks.

There have so far been no claims of responsibility for the bombings.

Crater

The biggest explosion on Wednesday happened close to the foreign ministry, just outside the high-security Green Zone.

It was powerful enough to break windows at the parliament building inside the zone, which houses government and diplomatic buildings.

It also left a crater 3m (10ft) deep and 10m (33ft) in diameter, with the smouldering wreckage of cars scattered around the site of the explosion.

Minutes earlier, there had been another blast close to the finance ministry in another hitherto relatively safe area of the city.

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The moment one of the bombs exploded

At least four other explosions went off in other parts of Baghdad, including the southern district of Bayaa. Several mortars also fell inside the Green Zone itself.

An interior ministry official said more than 560 people had been injured in the attacks, which appeared to have been co-ordinated.

UN attack anniversary

While Baghdad is often hit by bombings, it is unusual for them to penetrate such well-fortified areas of the city.

Since Iraqi forces took over responsibility for security in the city in late June, most attacks have targeted poor Shia neighbourhoods, says the BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baghdad.

KEY ATTACKS SINCE US PULLBACK
19 August: At least 95 killed in wave of attacks in central Baghdad
31 July: At least 27 dead in bombings outside five Baghdad mosques
9 July: 50 killed in bomb attacks at Talafar (near Mosul), Baghdad, and elsewhere
30 June: US troops withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities. Car bomb in Kirkuk kills at least 27 people

Wednesday's bombings confirmed some people's worst fears over the withdrawal of US troops from cities across Iraq, our correspondent says.

Baghdad security spokesman Maj Gen Qassim al-Moussawi said the attacks represented a security breach for which Iraqi forces had to take most of the blame.

"We must face the facts. We must admit our mistakes, just as we celebrate our victories," he was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

The US government condemned the bombings, but a spokesman said the overall number of attacks in Iraq was "at or near an all-time low".

The violence came exactly six years after one of the first major attacks in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

On 19 August 2003, the UN headquarters in Baghdad was hit by a suicide truck bomb, killing 22 people in what was the most deadly attack up until that point since the US-led invasion earlier that year.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the violence that followed.

The anniversary was chosen for the UN's inaugural World Humanitarian Day, in an effort to increase support for aid workers.


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