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Iraq put on high alert ahead of expected bombing campaign

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
Iraqi soldiers secure the site of a suicide car bomb attack at a police station in the Baghdad suburb of Qahira on Wednesday.
Iraqi soldiers secure the site of a suicide car bomb attack at a police station in the Baghdad suburb of Qahira on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iraq's prime minister warns of likely attacks across the country
  • All local governments and security forces have been put on high alert
  • Warning comes two days after a wave of 20 bomb attacks
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Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned Friday of likely attacks across the country and put all local governments and security forces on high alert.

In a statement read on state television, al-Maliki -- commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces -- said there were indications that "al Qaeda and remnants of the Baath party with foreign backing are planning to carry out a series of bombings in Baghdad and the other provinces."

The statement, which came shortly before midnight in Iraq, said the attacks would strike across the country, targeting government institutions in particular.

"We call on local governments and the security forces to take the maximum levels of precaution," the statement said.

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The warning came two days after a wave of 20 bomb attacks struck 13 Iraqi cities, mostly targeting police. The bombs killed 48 and wounded at least 286.

Wednesday's attacks increased fears among Iraqis about the ability of their security forces to protect them, especially as the United States is withdrawing forces from Iraq.

The attacks were a show of force for the insurgency, which has been dealt major blows over the past two years. The bombing campaign proved insurgents' ability to hit key targets in what appears to have been a highly coordinated effort stretching from Basra in the far south to Mosul in the north.

As of last week, the United States is maintaining a troop level of below 50,000, part of the Obama administration's plans to end its presence in Iraq by December 2011.

The U.S. military is due to officially end its combat mission in Iraq and complete its transition to stability operations by September 1.

 
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