x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Death toll rises to at least 50 in Iraq attacks on eve of US invasion anniversary

A spate of car bombs and shootings mostly in Shiite areas of Baghdad on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq killed also wounded 160 people.

Iraqi policemen examine the remains of a car bomb in Sadr City. Qahtan Al Sudani / Reuters
Iraqi policemen examine the remains of a car bomb in Sadr City. Qahtan Al Sudani / Reuters

BAGHDAD // Car bombs and a suicide blast hit Shiite districts of Baghdad and south of Iraq's capital today, killing at least 50 people on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Sunni Islamist insurgents tied to Al Qaeda have stepped up attacks on Shiite targets since the start of the year in a campaign to stoke sectarian tension and undermine the government of Nouri Al Maliki, the prime minister.

The car bombs exploded near a busy Baghdad market, close to the heavily fortified Green Zone and in other districts across the capital. A suicide bomber driving a truck attacked a police base in a Shiite town just south of the capital, police and hospital sources said.

"I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere," said Al Radi, a taxi driver caught in one of the blasts in Baghdad's Sadr City.

Another 160 people were wounded in the attacks, hospital officials said.

No group claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Iraq's Al Qaeda wing, Islamic State of Iraq, has vowed to take back ground lost in its long war with American troops. Since the start of the year the group has carried out a string of high-profile attacks.

Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the well-protected Justice Ministry building in central Baghdad on Thursday, killing 25 people in an attack by the Al Qaeda affiliate.