Al-Qaida group claims deadly attacks in Iraq

AFP-JIJI

An al-Qaida front group on Sunday claimed a wave of attacks that killed dozens of people during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, and Iraqis angrily blamed authorities for failing to prevent the violence.

The international community condemned the attacks, which killed 74 people and wounded more than 320, but almost all senior Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, made no mention of the unrest.

Saturday’s violence, which struck during the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marked the end of Iraq’s deadliest Muslim holy month of Ramadan in years, was the latest in months of bloodshed that have sparked fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the violence in a statement posted on jihadist forums Sunday. Shiites “will not dream of security during night or day,” it said.

The attacks came just weeks after assaults on prisons near Baghdad, also claimed by the al-Qaida front group, freed hundreds of prisoners, including leading militants, prompting warnings of a surge in violence.

Authorities, though, have highlighted major security operations — among the largest since U.S. forces departed in December 2011 — which they say have led to the killing or capture of many militants.

Iraqis voiced frustration with the government and security forces for failing to prevent the 16 car bombings and other attacks on Saturday.

More than 800 people were killed during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended last week, in the deadliest violence since 2008.

The U.S., Britain and the U.N. condemned the latest attacks, with Washington reiterating a bounty of $10 million for information leading to the killing or capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.