Bombs targeting Shiite areas killed at least 56 people in Baghdad on Friday in a possible backlash after Iraq touted a series of blows against al Qaeda.
Eight people were also killed by bombs in the Sunni west of the country.
Seven blasts hit different areas of the Iraqi capital around the time of Muslim prayers, mostly near Shiite mosques and at a marketplace, an interior ministry source said. Around 112 people were wounded.
“Targeting prayers in areas with a certain majority,” Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said, referring to Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, “is a revenge for the losses suffered by al Qaeda. “We expect such terrorist acts to continue.”
Last Sunday, al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, were killed in a raid in a rural area northwest of Baghdad by Iraqi and US forces.
In Friday’s attacks, at least 21 people were killed and more than that number were wounded when three bombs exploded in populated Sadr City slum.
Another bomb killed at least 11 and wounded 17 near a Shi’ite mosque in al-Ameen district in southeastern Baghdad. An earlier car bomb killed three people near a Shiite mosque in the northwestern neighbourhood of al-Hurriya, police said. Hours earlier, seven members of one family were killed in a series of blasts in Khalidiya, a town in Iraq’s turbulent western province of Anbar 83 km (50 miles) west of Baghdad.
One police officer died trying to defuse a bomb. The mainly Sunni province of Anbar has been relatively quiet since tribal leaders in 2006 started turning on Sunni Islamist groups such as al Qaeda who had once dominated it.
But insurgents continue to operate in the vast desert province. “At four in the morning, I heard a movement behind my house and found some barrels nearby, so I took my family out of the house,” said Fadhil Salih, a judge at the Khalidiya courthouse.
“An hour later the bomb went off and destroyed my house but, thank God, there were no casualties in my family,” Salih said. At least 10 people were wounded in the blasts, including two policemen.
Authorities imposed a ban on vehicles and motorbikes in Khalidiya after the blasts.