Iraq rocked by worst al-Qa'ida attack since 2010
IRAQ suffered its worst day of violence in two years yesterday, with more than 100 people killed in a wave of bombings and shootings.
An attack by gunmen on an army post at Dhuluiya, 72 kilometres north of Baghdad, in which 16 soldiers were shot dead or killed by grenades, heralded a series of bombings across the country.
Car bombs hit Sadr City in Baghdad -- a large, poor Shia neighbourhood which is a regular target for sectarian killings -- Hussainiya, another Shia suburb, the towns of Taji and Khan Bani Saad just to the north of the city, and Kirkuk, a city in the north contested by Arabs, Kurds and minority populations.
Insurgents mounted at least 27 different attacks in 18 cities, security and medical officials said. Officials reported at least 107 people killed by yesterday afternoon, with more than 200 wounded.
The combination attack is a signature al-Qa'ida tactic and demonstrates that, despite a decrease of violence overall and claims that some of its fighters have travelled over the border to Syria, the terrorist organisation can still pull off regular "spectaculars".
Despite having been largely brought under control by an alliance of American force and local tribal militias in the years before US troops withdrew from Iraq, the local al-Qa'ida franchise has maintained the ability to strike every three to four weeks. Last month, 72 people were killed on one day during a series of bombings timed to coincide with a Shia religious festival.
At the weekend, the group posted a rare statement online saying it was "returning to strongholds" from which it withdrew during the US campaign, suggesting that it felt more confident since the final pull-out of US troops in December.
"The majority of the Sunnis in Iraq support al-Qa'ida and are waiting for its return," the statement said, signed by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The attack on Taji caused the highest casualty toll yesterday. In another trademark al-Qa'ida tactic, a series of car bombs attracted the emergency services, which were then hit by a suicide bombing.
At least 42 people were killed in the attacks. (©Daily Telegraph, London)