49 die as blasts rock Baghdad

49 die as blasts rock Baghdad

Coordinated bombings: Spurt in Iraq violence as anarchy rules

49 die as blasts rock Baghdad

The upsurge in violence comes amid uncertainty over who will form the next government nearly a month after a parliamentary election that produced no clear winner. Coalition talks could take months more.

Rescuers swarmed over the debris of a collapsed three-storey building in the Alawi district of central Baghdad, looking for survivors.  The building had a cafe filled with patrons on the ground floor and apartments above, witnesses said.

“Suddenly we heard a big explosion and then this building collapsed. Many people are still under the debris,” a man said at the scene.  A police source said the blasts had killed 49 people and wounded 140. An Interior Ministry source put the number killed at 28 and those wounded at 75.

Wave of attacks

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi blamed the wave of attacks since Friday on remnants of al Qaeda and supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and his outlawed Baath Party.

Moussawi put the toll at 22 dead and 134 wounded. “We are in a battleground and we have to expect any type of attack,” he said on state-run television.  The bombings took place in the predominantly Shi'ite Shula and Chukook districts of northwestern Baghdad and the al-Shurta al-Rabaa area of southwestern Baghdad, and the mixed Alawi district in the centre of the city.

Moussawi said explosives experts defused two bombs planted in houses in Chukook.
The explosions hit the capital two days after coordinated suicide car bomb attacks on embassies killed 41 people and wounded more than 200. The Iranian, Egyptian and German embassies appeared to be the targets.

Gunmen also attacked a village south of Baghdad and killed 24 people on Friday.
Sectarian divide Iraqi security forces had predicted a possible upturn of violence following the March 7 election, which highlighted Iraq’s sectarian divide.

The top two coalitions, the cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the State of Law alliance led by Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, finished just two seats apart.

Neither candidate won enough to form a majority government.  All of the major coalitions are involved in talks to form a new government. After the last parliamentary election in 2005, sectarian violence exploded as politicians took five months to reach agreement on a government.