A fresh wave of car bombings rocked the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 20 people and wounding nearly two dozen others. The violence did not match the scope of Wednesday's attacks, which killed more than 150 people. But it did follow al-Qaida in Iraq's declaration that the terrorist group is carrying out the attacks as part of an all-out war to kill Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims.
For the second time in two days, Iraqis in the capital on Thursday woke to the sound of thunderous explosions.
The first and the deadliest of the six car bombings which shook Baghdad throughout the day, targeted an Iraqi police station in the south Baghdad neighborhood of Doura. At least 10 Iraqi policemen were killed and 15 civilians wounded in the blast.
Shortly past noon, a car bomb struck an Iraqi police convoy in the same neighborhood, killing six security men. About seven hours later, two separate car bombs exploded near an Iraqi police convoy in Ghazaliyah, north of the Baghdad airport. That blast killed four more Iraqi policemen.
Two other car bombs struck U.S. military patrols in Baghdad Thursday, wounding five U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi military interpreters.
Some 12 car bombs were used against Iraqis and coalition forces the day before, killing more than 150 people. Most of the casualties occurred among Shi'ite Muslims in the northwest Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad, where a remotely-detonated car bomb killed nearly 90 people.
The two days of violence have been the deadliest in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. The Sunni Arab Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaida in Iraq group have claimed responsibility for the bombing campaign, saying it is being carried out in retaliation for the four-day-long joint U.S.-Iraqi military offensive to wipe out Sunni militants and foreign fighters in the northern city of Tal Afar.
In an audiotape posted Wednesday on an Internet website, a voice, believed to be that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared an all-out war on Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and Shi'ite Muslims throughout the country. Al-Qaida in Iraq has accused Shi'tes and U.S. forces of collaborating against Sunni Arabs and described the offensive in Tal Afar as an "organized sectarian war."
Thirty-year-old computer engineer Ali Kadhim says he is taking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's threat against the Shi'ite people very seriously.
"I'm a Shi'ite and when I heard the news, I feared for my life and my family's life, too because only yesterday, he killed more than 100 people," said Ali Kadhim. "I believe he means it when he says he will start a new war against Shi'tes. It is very much possible and we have to face them somehow. The government is not doing its job. Maybe we as civilians have to look out for them and be very alert."
A Sunni Arab school teacher, Salim Mohammed, says he agrees the time has come for all Iraqis to find a way to unite firmly against terrorism and not to be intimidated by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's attempts to tear the country apart.
"He is the dirtiest man in the world, this Zarqawi is," said Salim Mohammed. "I mean, he is nothing, just a guy who has been created by others from outside Iraq to have some influence inside Iraq. We are fed up with all this destruction, all these killings in our country. We do not want it anymore."
The Times newspaper in Britain on Thursday quoted a U.S. intelligence official as saying that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may now have tactical command over various Sunni insurgent groups in Baghdad.
The anonymous American official says he believes Iraqi insurgent groups have merged with al-Qaida's foreign fighters to strengthen the insurgency against Shi'ites and for the sake of survival.