NEW: Interior Ministry says the attacks bear the hallmark of al Qaeda in Iraq
Attackers struck across Iraq on Monday in assaults that killed 82 and injured 186
It was one of the deadliest days since U.S. forces withdrew in December
The deadliest attack this year was bombing that killed 93, wounded 312 on June 13
Attackers detonated car bombs and roadside explosives in at least a dozen attacks across Iraq on Monday as at least 82 people were killed and more than 180 wounded in one of the bloodiest days since the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in December, authorities said.
The level of violence Monday was reminiscent of some of the bloodiest days of the Iraq war, when random and targeted attacks routinely killed scores of people a day. Attacks have declined sharply since the violence peaked in 2006, but insurgents have continued to target civilians and security forces since the United States withdrew its forces.
The deadliest incident this year took place on June 13, when a bomb targeted Shia pilgrims headed to a shrine in Baghdad. It killed at least 93 people and wounded 312.
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Monday’s attacks coincide with an emerging political crisis in Iraq, which faces an increasingly fractious legislature as Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs increasingly seem at odds. Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support.
Officials with Iraq’s Interior Ministry said Monday that the attacks bear the hallmark of al Qaeda in Iraq. No claim of responsibility has been made.
Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups, mostly from the country’s Sunni minority, have claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Iraqi security forces and the majority Shiite population, raising fears that the violence is a precursor to the return of sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart at the height of the war.
“They promised us that violence would end when American troops leave Iraq, but on the contrary, things are getting worse,” college student Khalid Nima said, pointing a finger at the government for failing to stanch the violence. “This is not the country where I want to plan for my future.”
The deadliest attack on Monday killed 32 people and wounded 43 in the town of Taji, roughly 20 miles north of Baghdad; authorities said a car bomb and four roadside bombs exploded in a residential complex there.
In another attack, at an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad, militants armed with mortars and small arms killed at least 15 soldiers, according to the officials.
Another car bomb went off outside government offices on the edge of Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in the capital, killing 12 people and wounding 18, the ministry said.
Authorities reported these other incidents of violence across Iraq on Monday:
– Five people were killed and 19 injured in Kirkuk by three car bombs and five roadside bombs.
– Five people were killed and 22 injured when a car bomb exploded near a busy market in Diwaniya.
– Three people were killed and 31 injured in a car bombing outside a popular restaurant in al-Husseiniya, a predominantly Shiite suburb in northeastern Baghdad.
– Three people were killed and 19 hurt when a bomb struck an outdoor market in Mosul.
– Two people were killed in the Qadisiya neighborhood of Baghdad.
– Two people were killed and 11 wounded when a motorcycle rigged with a bomb exploded at an outdoor market in Muqdadiyah, in the Sunni-dominated province of Diyala.
– One person was killed and nine were hurt when an attacker struck an Iraqi security patrol in Tarmiya.
– One person was killed and seven were hurt by a roadside bomb in the al-Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad.
– One person was killed and seven were hurt by a roadside bomb in al-Baaj, west of Mosul, in northern Iraq.
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