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Al Qaeda blamed for Iraq violence wave

  • Story Highlights
  • Dozens dead, 231 wounded, houses destroyed from bombings
  • Series of bombings appears to target mostly day laborers
  • Most of attacks scattered across Baghdad; two truck bombs reported in Mosul
  • Attacks fuel fears sectarian violence could re-ignite in Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to foment sectarian tensions by attacking and killing Iraqi civilians, a government spokesman said Monday.

Iraqi women gather near the site of an attack in the village of al-Khazna, near Mosul, on Monday.

Iraqi women gather near the site of an attack in the village of al-Khazna, near Mosul, on Monday.

Explosions across the country have killed 50 and wounded 231 others, most of them civilians in Shiite areas, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf.

"Most of the terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda in Iraq were against civilians and not Iraqi security forces," Khalaf said. "This is an indication that al Qaeda in Iraq cannot face the Iraqi security forces."

Monday's deadliest attack happened near the northern city of Mosul when two truck bombs destroyed 32 homes, killing 30 people and burying others in the rubble, officials said.

The bombs targeted al-Khazna village, which is inhabited by a Shiite Shabak ethnic group. The village is an area disputed between Kurds and Arabs.

Car bombings and a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed 18 others on Monday, most of them Shiites.

"This is the card that al Qaeda in Iraq is now playing by targeting mostly Shiite areas and neighborhoods to agitate the sectarian violence," Khalaf said. "But this will not happen because Iraqi security forces and Iraqi people in general are aware of this losing game and they will not fall into this trap."

On Monday afternoon, two children -- brothers aged 5 and 9 -- were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near them as they played in a yard in northern Tikrit, about 99 miles (160 km) north of Baghdad, a police official said.

The attacks come after a series of bombings in Iraq on Friday, mostly aimed at Shiite targets, which killed 50 and wounded 154 others. Friday's deadliest attack happened when a suicide car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque where a funeral was taking place, killing 38.

Last week's attacks occurred at the end of a Shiite Muslim celebration marking the birthday of Imam Mohammed al-Mehdi, the last of 12 historic imams revered by Shiites. Pilgrims participating in such celebrations have been the target of similar attacks by Sunnis.

The bombings sparked fears of sectarian violence and called into question the ability of Iraqi forces. The United States pulled back its combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns on June 30, leaving security responsibilities to the Iraqis and remaining only in a training and advisory capacity. The U.S. military continues to conduct combat operations in areas outside cities and towns.

Khalaf said the recent attacks are part of "an escalation of violence" over the past two months ahead of national elections in January.

"The enemy of Iraq wants to bring down political progress in the country," he said.

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