x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for wave of attacks across Iraq

Al Qaeda's front group in Iraq says attacks which killed 46 people shows how weak government security will be for next week's Arab League summit in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD // Al Qaeda's front group in Iraq said yesterday its wave of attacks that killed 46 people across the country the day before shows how weak government security will be for next week's Arab League summit in Baghdad.

The attacks on Tuesday struck Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Karbala, set cars on fire near a police headquarters in Kirkuk and targeted security forces and government officials in Baghdad. In all, insurgents struck eight cities in just under six hours, killing 46 and wounding 200 people.

The statement by the Islamic State of Iraq, posted on a militant website yesterday, said its "Sunni lions" targeted the plan of the "fool government preparing" for the summit.

"Within few hours, all the security measures adopted by the Shiite government have collapsed and the enemy was taken by surprise," said the statement. "Several government and security headquarters were attacked."

The government vowed not to be scared off from hosting the summit - the first to take place in Iraq since 1990 and a chance to prove it is moving towards normality after years of war.

Yesterday, a bomb exploded near a liquor store in central Baghdad and wounded five passers-by, said police and a hospital medic.

The government said last week that Iraq would deploy an unprecedented number of security forces to protect the capital for the summit. An estimated 26,000 police and soldiers - including more than 4,000 from Iraq's north and south - are expected to be deployed in Baghdad.

But citizens and politicians have questioned whether Baghdad would be safe during the Arab meeting.

Extremists have launched large-scale attacks in Iraq every few weeks for nearly a year. The violence is nowhere as frequent as it was during the tit-for-tat sectarian fighting a few years ago. But the attacks appear to be more deadly than they were before American military's withdrawal in late December.