Page last updated at 21:29 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Baghdad security chief fired after bombings

Al-Maliki in Baghdad, 9 Dec (Govt handout)
PM Maliki appealed for Iraqis to stand by their security forces

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has fired the head of Baghdad's security forces in the wake of Tuesday's bombings which killed 127 people.

"[Mr Maliki] ordered the removal of Lt Gen Abboud Qanbar from his post," a statement from his office said.

Lt Gen Qanbar would be replaced by the deputy chief of the Iraqi army, Lt Gen Ahmed Hashem, the statement said.

A total of 127 people were killed and 448 wounded in Tuesday's bombings, the third such major attack since August.

"This crime will prompt us to review security strategies. It will bring changes in positions of officials in order to develop tactics to confront these developing challenges," Mr Maliki said.

Public anger

Mourners crying at a Baghdad hospital

Iraqi MPs have demanded that top ministers face questions in parliament over security.

Iraq's Interior Minister, Jawad al-Bolani, said he was willing attend the session as long it was held publicly.

Reports said the defence minister and Prime Minister Maliki had also been asked to attend.

The bombings came two days after Iraq's parliament backed a new election law and set delayed polls for 7 March.

The top US military officer said plans to withdraw US forces next year had not been altered, despite the attacks.

Toll questioned

Also on Wednesday, the Iraqi government questioned the media's death toll for the bombing, which quoted unnamed police and hospital officials who said the number of dead totalled 127.

Baghdad central district

The government-run Baghdad Operation Centre said 77 people had been killed.

Relatives of the dead from Tuesday's attacks waited outside Baghdad hospitals to pick up their remains.

Some mourners carried black-draped coffins through the streets to the burial grounds.

Officials say that attacks on state-run institutions are designed to undermine the Iraqi government, especially ahead of the parliamentary election.

Also on Wednesday, another bomb, planted by the side of a road in north Baghdad, killed two people and injured seven. Later, a sniper shot a policeman dead in the same district.

Iraqi government figures have shown that violence generally has fallen over the past 18 months.

In October, however, co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 155 people and wounded hundreds in Baghdad.

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