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Wave of bombings kill 52, decade after U.S.-led invasion


13:43, March 20, 2013

BAGHDAD, March 19 (Xinhua) -- A new wave of bombings mainly struck Shiite areas in Iraq on Tuesday, killing 52 people and wounding some 200, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.- led invasion that ousted the country's former leader Saddam Hussein.

The attacks were apparently an attempt by the insurgent groups to stir up sectarian strife among Iraqis after three months of protests by the Sunni Arabs in west and north of Baghdad against the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

In the capital Baghdad, at least 12 car bombs detonated at crowded areas mainly in Shiite districts during the morning rush hours.

One car bomb detonated near a popular restaurant near the entrance of the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies, including the U.S. embassy, killing five people and wounding 15 others.

In a separate incident, a car bomb went off close to a government office near al-Mudhafar Square in Sadr City neighborhood in the eastern part of Baghdad, killing two policemen and two civilians and injuring 12 others, including three policemen.

Another car bomb struck construction workers who gather in Baghdad al-Jadida district, or New Baghdad, killing at least four workers and wounding more than 12 others.

The fourth one ripped through al-Huseiniyah neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad, killing four people and wounding four others.

Other car bomb attacks struck Shiite neighborhoods of Sadr City, Zaafaraniyah, Kadhmiyah, Mashtel, Utiefiyah and Shula.

Also in the capital, two people were killed when two sticky bombs attached to their cars detonated in western and eastern Baghdad, while a third was shot dead by gunmen using silenced weapons in the southern part of Baghdad.

"Our report said a total of 48 people were killed and some 167 wounded by the bomb and gunfire attacks in Baghdad," an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Near Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden truck into the entrance of an Iraqi army base in the town of Iskandariyah, some 50 km south of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding more than 10 others, while another car bomb ripped the town, wounding ten people.

Meanwhile, mortar rounds struck a medical center at Sabie al- Bour area, just north of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding five others.

Separately, at least four soldiers were wounded in a car bomb explosion near their patrol in the Sunni town of Tarmiyah, some 40 km north of Baghdad.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, al-Qaida front in Iraq frequently claimed responsibility for most deadly attacks in the country, raising fears that the terrorist group could return to spread violence, particularly as Iraq is trying to fend off the spillover of violence from the ongoing conflict in the neighboring Syria.

Since nearly three months ago, the Shiite-led government has been at odds with the Sunni communities north and west of Baghdad. The Sunnis complain about injustice, marginalization and claim that the Shiite-dominated security forces indiscriminately arrest their sons and torture them.

The protests started in December in Anbar province, the heartland of Sunni Arabs, and quickly spread to the Sunni provinces of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahudin and Diyala, as well as in Baghdad's Sunni districts.

Tension remains high in the country despite that the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought to defuse the crisis with Sunnis, as he offered release of hundreds of Sunni detainees and halted arrests made according to information from secret informers.

Tuesday attacks raise questions about the capabilities of the Iraqi politicians and the security forces to maintain security in the country, while the sectarian and political tensions are running high ten years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

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