Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 16:36 UK

Dozens killed in Baghdad in 'revenge al-Qaeda attacks'


The wave of bombings wreaked widespread destruction

A wave of bombings in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 100.

Most of the attacks occurred near Shia mosques during Friday prayers. At least two went off near the offices of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

A top official blamed al-Qaeda, which in the past has targeted Shia areas.

He said the bombing had been carried out in revenge for the recent killing of three senior al-Qaeda leaders by security forces.

Gabriel Gatehouse
Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC News, Baghdad
No group has publicly said it carried out the attacks, but many will look at the pattern of Friday's bombings - all near groups of Shia worshippers, all around the time of Friday prayers - and draw their own conclusions.

The Baghdad authorities have blamed al-Qaeda, saying the bombings were in revenge for the killing of high-profile al-Qaeda operatives on Sunday.

Whoever did carry out the attacks, it is hard not to conclude that they were designed to inflame tensions between Iraq's Sunni and Shia communities at a time of political uncertainty.

There were at least six bombings in Baghdad on Friday, with some reports putting the total at 13.

The targets included mosques and a market, as well as Mr Sadr's offices in the mainly Shia area of Sadr City.

An eyewitness to that attack said he had counted about 25 bodies.

"We are the innocent victims of vicious politics," he told the Associated Press news agency. "This kind of politics will lead us nowhere, down a rabbit-hole to sectarianism."

Baghdad security spokesman Qassim Moussawi told Reuters news agency the bombings targeted "prayers in areas with a certain majority", referring to Iraq's Shia population.

He said the attacks came in "revenge for the losses suffered by al-Qaeda" and he expected "such terrorist acts to continue".

Al-Qaeda is blamed for many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq in recent years.

At the weekend US and Iraqi forces said they had killed three al-Qaeda leaders - named as Ahmed al-Obeidi, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.


The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says security officials have stepped up security in Sadr City and many residents will be asking how the bombers managed to get through the checkpoints.

But the broader question is what the reaction will be, both in Sadr City and in other predominantly Shia areas that were hit, our correspondent adds.

Meanwhile seven people also died on Friday in a series of bombings in the western town of Khalidya in Anbar province.

The attacks reportedly targeted the homes of police officers and a judge.

Anbar province is more peaceful now than it was a few years ago, when it was at the centre of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

But relatively small-scale bombings of this kind are still common and often blamed on - but rarely claimed by - al-Qaeda or its affiliates.

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