Iraq: suicide bombs reach record

A suicide bomber in a truck with explosives hidden under construction materials was waved through a checkpoint in southern Baghdad, where he detonated his payload, killing at least 20 on March 24. The attack was the deadliest of a wave of such bombings around Iraq that day that killed at least 47, including many police. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, top US military spokesman in Iraq, said last week that the number of car bombs in Baghdad reached a record high of 44 in February, out of 77 nationwide. (AND, March 24)

On March 23, Iraq’s deputy prime minister Salam al-Zubaie, a Sunni who joined the Shiite-led government, was gravely injured in a suicide bombing at a mosque in the courtyard of his home, his chest pierced with shrapnel. Nine were killed in the attack, which came after a statement purportedly by an al-Qaeda umbrella group singled out al-Zubaie as a stooge “to the crusader occupiers.” (AP, March 22, AP, March 23) A group called the “Islamic Emirate of Iraq” subsequently said in an Internet statement its fighters had “succeeded with Allah’s help” in striking al-Zubaie. “We pray to God not to save the life of this inferior traitor who sold his religion and his people for a cheap return,” added the statement. Al-Zubaie’s bodyguards have been detained on suspicion of complicity in the attack. (AlJazeera, March 24)

See our last post on Iraq and the sectarian cleansing.