Five bombs in all, including at least three suicide attacks, struck near a college, a court complex in western Baghdad, a mosque and a market and a neighborhood near the Interior Ministry in what appeared to be a coordinated assault on the capital.The insurgents have taken to a strategy of carrying out coordinated mass casualty attacks, rather than piecemeal attacks that aren't nearly as deadly.
The blasts began shortly after 10 a.m. and reverberated through the city for the next 50 minutes, sending enormous plumes of black smoke into the air.
The attacks came as Iraq’s Presidency Council announced a date — March 6 — for the country’s long-delayed parliamentary elections. And furor over Tuesday’s bombings immediately became political, with prospective candidates blaming the security forces and the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for failing, once again, to secure the heart of Baghdad.
Many victims linked the attacks to the protracted political jockeying over holding the election, which was originally scheduled for January. “Are we cursed?” yelled a young woman near the mosque that was struck in Qahira, in northeast Baghdad. She had burns over her arms and legs. “When will we be finished with this election issue?”
The attacks were the worst in Iraq since twin suicide bombings destroyed three ministries on Oct. 25, killing at least 155 people. They fit a pattern of spectacular attacks in the capital, followed by weeks of relative calm. In August, two suicide car bombs exploded near the country’s Finance and Foreign Ministries, killing at least 122.
It's a way for the insurgents to maximize their limited resources, and coordinated attacks have the hallmark of al Qaeda written all over them.
Among the targets were an appeals court, and several of its judges were killed.
These attacks go to the heart of the Iraqi government's capabilities to provide security and operation; it was carried out with an eye to the political ramifications in the hope that others would not support the government.
Despite pledges by Iraqis and Americans to withdraw US forces, the Iraqis are hoping to secure a new agreement for the US to establish a long-term training relationship with the Iraqi army (HT: Small Wars Journal).