Terror attacks near embassies rock Baghdad, kill 41
Three suicide bombers targeted foreign diplomatic buildings in Baghdad, just one day after a deadly nighttime raid by terrorists disguised as Iraqi and US troops butchered civilians and security personnel south of the capital.
In today's attacks, the suicide bombers detonated their explosive-laden vehicles outside the Egyptian, Iranian, Spanish, and German embassies, killing 41 people and wounding 256 more, according to Reuters.
The suicide bomber who targeted the Egyptian embassy hit the outer blast wall and left a 10-foot-wide crater in the street.
"The car crashed into the blast wall and the guards of the embassy shot the terrorist but he went and blew himself up," General Qassim al Moussawi, the Baghdad Operations Command spokesman, told Reuters. "The same thing happened with the Iranian embassy." Iranian officials said no Iranian personnel were killed or wounded in the attack, Voices of Iraq reported.
At the German embassy, one Iraqi security guard was killed while attempting to repel the attack. Police shot and killed another suicide bomber outside the German embassy before he could detonate his explosives.
Today's bombings in Baghdad took place only one day after a terrorist assault team entered a village in the Arab Jabour region just south of the capital in Baghdad province. The al Qaeda team dressed as Iraqi soldiers, brought along a fake interpreter, and included members who pretended to be Americans. They entered the village and rounded up soldiers, the anti-al Qaeda Awakening security forces, and civilians, including women, tied them up, and executed them. Twenty-five people were reported killed in a shooting spree; 17 people were later found tied up.
Both the Iraqi Army and Awakening leaders blamed al Qaeda in Iraq for the Arab Jabour massacre, according to a report in The Guardian. Moussawi, the Baghdad Operations Command spokesman, said the murders bore "an obvious al Qaeda hallmark." General Mustafa Kamel, the leader of the Awakening movement who is also known as the "Lion of Arab Jabour," also put the blame on al Qaeda. In the summer of 2007, Mustafa led the local revolt against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Arab Jabour region and called the group "godless criminals" for attempting to impose a Taliban-like state there. [See LWJ report, "An interview with the 'Lion of Arab Jabour,'" for more on Mustafa and the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Arab Jabour region.]
This weekend's attacks do bear the hallmark of al Qaeda in Iraq. Today's suicide attacks in Baghdad were carried out minutes apart and targeted key foreign installations in the capital. Yesterday's attack in Arab Jabour also mimicked previous attacks carried out by al Qaeda to stir up sectarian violence in and around the capital during 2006 and 2007.
While no group has claimed credit for the attacks, al Qaeda has done so for prior attacks. Al Qaeda and Ansar al Islam (formerly Ansar al Sunnah), are the two groups that use suicide bombings in Iraq.
Today's suicide attacks in Baghdad are the first since March 4, which was just three days before Iraq's parliamentary election. Fourteen Iraqis were killed at two polling sites; Iraqi soldiers and police were conducting early voting at one of the sites.
Prior to the March 4 attack, al Qaeda in Iraq targeted Shia pilgrims in Baghdad, Karbala, Hillah, and Najaf as they marched in religious processions in late January and early February.