A wave of attacks in Iraq has killed at least 50 people as Ramadan draws to a close. About 700 people total have been killed in Iraq during Ramadan, which began in mid-July.
Bombs targeting cafes and markets in the capital, Baghdad, and other attacks nationwide killed more than 50 people on Saturday. Overall, 11 car bombs, a series of shootings and other blasts killed also wounded up to 200 across the country on Saturday, as Iraqis celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that follows the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
In apparently coordinated strikes, vehicles detonated in eight neighborhoods across Baghdad over the course of an hour. The blasts struck public markets, cafes and restaurants, according to security and medical officials.
About 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the capital in Tuz Khormatu, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a police checkpoint, killing eight people and wounding several dozen. A car bomb in the southern city of Nasiriyah killed at least two. Attacks in the Babil and Nineveh provinces killed three more people and wounded at least five others.
A growing toll
Attacks killed about 700 people during Ramadan, which began in the second week of July and ended August 7. Militants struck cafes where Iraqis gathered after breaking their daily fast and mosques as they hosted extended evening prayers during the month. A series of blasts hit Baghdad on Tuesday, for example, killing 31 people.
The violence also comes just weeks after brazen attacks on prisons in Abu Ghraib and Taji in which militants freed hundreds of prisoners. The global police organization Interpol has warned that the jailbreaks could lead to a further rise in attacks, with many of those broken out linked to the main al Qaeda group in Iraq. Security forces have launched major operations, among the biggest since the December 2011 withdrawal of US forces, to target militants in multiple provinces, including Baghdad.
The United Nations reported that attacks killed more than 1,000 people in July, the highest toll in over five years.
mkg/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)