At least 39 people were killed and more than 190 others were wounded in seemingly coordinated attacks that included 24 explosions and some small arms fire that hit mixed and mostly Sunni provinces, Thursday, in the midst of a deepening political crisis that threatens to undo the fragile balance of the political process in the country.
In Baghdad, seven parked car bombs, three roadside bombs and one suicide car bomb killed 18 people and wounded 96 others, said security and medical sources. Four of the explosions hit Taji, a northern suburb, while others hit Amil, Haifa St, Palestine St, Kathimiyah, Tarmiyah and Zafaraniyah neighbourhoods.
In the northern oil rich city of Kirkuk, where Arabs, Kurds, Turkoman and others reside and where tensions run high as ethnic groups vie for supremacy, two parked car bombs targeted the motorcade of a high ranking police officer killing four policemen and injuring 33 people, security officials said. While in Dibis, a western suburb, mortar rounds killed one civilian and wounded ten others.
The political crisis broke out in December when Iraq's Shiite led government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, attempted to depose Salih al Mutlag, The PM's Sunni deputy, and to arrest Tariq al Hashimi, the country's Sunni Vice President, accusing him of leading death squads that targeted Shiite politicians and citizens.
These acts were seen as a blow by Maliki to his Sunni partners in the national partnership government that since have threatened the fragile balance in the government after the U.S. military pulled out of Iraq, and raised serious fears of Maliki consolidating power in his own hands, even among some of the Shiite politicians. And talk of calling for a vote of no confidence regarding the PM is becoming common in the corridors of the parliament although no official steps have been taken yet.
"We know there are agreements and alliances by parties outside the National Alliance [the coalition that brought Maliki to power] working, at this time, towards replacing Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki" said Haider al Abad, a lawmaker close to Malki, in a press conference "And that there are three nominees for the office of Prime Minister - But those political parties do not have the quorum required in the parliament to lift confidence from Maliki."
Samarra, to the northwest of Baghdad, the city of the double domed shrine, the targeting of which sparked off the sectarian strife in 2006, witnessed two car bomb and three roadside bomb attacks that targeted security checkpoints manned mostly by former Awakening forces, killing six people and wounding ten others.
Diyala, a mixed province to the northeast of Baghdad, that still struggles with a strong presence of al Qaida and Shiite militias, was hit with two roadside bombs in the town of Khanaqeen that went off within minutes of each other, killing one civilian and wounding six others; while a suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest walked into the midst of a crowd in north Baquba, Diyala's capital city, and detonated, killing two civilians and wounding another ten.
Anbar province, to the west of Baghdad, a mostly Sunni province that is still restive and witnesses minor security incidents almost on a daily basis, witnessed two car bomb attacks in its capital city, Ramadi, Thursday, that claimed the lives of three civilians and wounded ten others. While in Fallujah, armed men raided the home of a police officer, killed him and wounded four others, including his two children.
And in Hilla, capital of mostly Shiite Babil province to the south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol early Thursday, wounding five policemen. All of these attacks, except Fallujah and Hilla, took place between 7 and 9.30 a.m. Thursday, security officials said.
The Ministry of Interior, in a written public statement said that "terrorist gangs are sending a message to their regional supporters that they are still functional and have not lost the battle", in order to acquire funding and reinforcements after [the government] dried up their existing sources. The statement included a list of the attacks that took place Thursday. The list fell far short of the reality according to security and medical sources. The statement also mentioned that the toll for Thursday's attacks was just nine people killed and 46 injured.