Iraq boosts security after deadliest day this year
Iraqi forces beefed up checkpoints, conducted house-to-house searches and rifled through cars today looking for suspects behind a devastating string of attacks across the country that killed 119 people a day earlier.Updated: May 11, 2010 23:20 IST
Iraqi forces beefed up checkpoints, conducted house-to-house searches and rifled through cars on Tuesday looking for suspects behind a devastating string of attacks across the country that killed 119 people a day earlier.
The sheer breadth of the attacks was a blow after recent victories against insurgents and demonstrated the militants' resilience. Officials blamed the violence, which stretched from the volatile north to the normally peaceful Shiite south, on the political vacuum resulting from inconclusive March 7 elections. Two months after the voting, it still is not clear who will control the next Iraqi government.
Brig. Gen. Ralph Baker, a former Pentagon counterterror expert who now oversees U.S. military operations in eastern Baghdad, said the complexity of the attacks indicates they were all coordinated. "Given the timing of the attacks in Baghdad and (the western province of) Anbar, coupled with the activities up north and south, I think you can very clearly say it was a coordinated effort," he told The Associated Press.
Baker noted that many of the attacks were aimed at Iraqi security forces and Shiite civilians _ two popular targets with al-Qaida in Iraq. "They're still trying to show they can re-ignite the cycle of sectarian violence," he said.
Most of the victims of Monday's violence were in two Shiite cities _ Hillah and Basra _ adding to concerns about a resurgence of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian warfare that peaked in 2006 and 2007. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite bloc has tried to squeeze out election front-runner Ayad Allawi _ a secular Shiite who was heavily backed by Sunnis _ by forging an alliance last week with another religious Shiite coalition. The union, which is just four seats short of a majority in parliament, will likely lead to four more years of a government dominated by Shiites, much like the current one.
First Published: May 11, 2010 23:19 IST