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Multiple Explosions Target Shi'ite Worshippers Across Baghdad


A series of bloody explosions, timed to coincide with Friday prayer services in several mostly Shi'ite districts of Baghdad, have left at least 58 people dead and scores wounded.

Multiple explosions occurred in Sadr City, a Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad. Security officials say at least one car bomb exploded near the office of anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, killing 25 people and injuring at least 100. Another bomb exploded at a marketplace. Officials say other bombings Friday targeted three Shi'ite mosques in Baghdad.

Ambulances and police vehicles evacuated the wounded, as angry residents of several mostly Shi'ite districts of Baghdad picked through debris and rubble from a series of explosions, Friday.

Eyewitnesses say that at least four car bombs went off, while at least one suicide bomber blew himself up in the vicinity of Shi'ite mosques around the time of Friday prayer services. The bloodiest explosion took place in front of the offices of pro-Iranian cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Baghdad security chief, General Qassem Mohammed Atta called the perpetraters of the explosions "terrorists," and warned that they were creating a new wave of sectarian strife.

A crowd of angry young men in the heavily Shi'ite Sadr City district, shouted epithets at the government as they picked through torn and twisted metal from a pile of destroyed motorcycles that were still smoldering from one explosion.

Iraqi government TV reported that eight other explosive devices were de-activated by Iraqi security forces before they were able to go off.

A number of people were also killed in the mostly Sunni Arab Anbar province town of Khalidiya, as well, Friday, after bombs were planted around the houses of policemen and their families.

James Denselow, a Middle East analyst at Kings' College London, argues that the violence between Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs is the product of a failure of Iraqi politicians to come to any political understanding.

"Since 2004, the cycle of violence between Sunni and Shi'ite political militias has cleansed large areas of Iraq," he said. "It displaced millions of people, it's turned some areas into very homogeneous areas, it's put blast walls in between communities, a lot of people have lost relatives and there's a lot of anger and there's very little political reconciliation, and although the [2008 US-led troop] "surge" succeeded in creating a secure space, within that space, leaders of Iraq didn't manage to make massive progress towards reconciliation and building a federal model they could agree on, and….if a group can't deal with their problems politically, they're likely to deal with them violently."

In the wake of the blasts, parliamentarian Maha Duri, a member of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc blamed the U.S. for the blasts. Moqtada al-Sadr returned from Iran, in recent months, after reportedly being groomed by Iranian clerics in the holy city of Qom to play a larger role in Iraqi politics.

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