Al Qaeda in Iraq launched coordinated suicide attacks today on Iraqi police stations in Baghdad and Al Kut, and also targeted police in bombings in Karbala, Basrah, and Buhriz. More than 60 people have been reported killed and over 250 were wounded in the attacks, which are the latest to target the Iraqi police.
The largest attack took place in the city of Al Kut in Wasit province south of Baghdad. A suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded 87 more after ramming his car packed with explosives into a police station, Reuters reported.
The second suicide attack occurred in the district of Qahira in Baghdad province. An al Qaeda suicide bomber killed 15 people and wounded 56 more after detonating his car bomb at a police station in the district.
Al Qaeda in Iraq also detonated car bombs outside police stations in Karbala and Basrah. In the Karbala attack, 29 people were wounded, and 12 more were wounded in Basrah.
In Buhriz in Diyala province, al Qaeda in Iraq fighters attacked the homes of policemen, wounding five people. Al Qaeda in Iraq planted the flag of its puppet Islamic State of Iraq over one of the policeman’s homes. A few weeks ago, al Qaeda in Iraq planted its flag after attacking and killing policemen in Baghdad.
In recent months, al Qaeda in Iraq has stepped up attacks against the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army, and the pro-government Awakening auxiliaries, in an effort to destabilize the country and force it to slip into a civil war. Iraqi soldiers, policemen, and Awakening fighters are killed on a daily basis. The police have been hit especially hard in Baghdad and in the northern city of Mosul.
Last week, an al Qaeda suicide bomber killed 57 Army recruits and soldiers at a recruiting station in Baghdad. Days later, the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s front group, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. “Our brother triggered and exploded his vest after plunging himself into the crowd,” the terror group said in a statement released on the Internet.
On July 18, al Qaeda suicide bombers killed 46 Awakening fighters in attacks in Baghdad and Al Qaim.
The attacks are being directed by Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman, al Qaeda’s new ‘war minister’ for Iraq. Suleiman was appointed in May after his predecessor, Abu Ayyub al Masri, was killed in a US raid along with Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Hussieni al Qurshi was named the new emir of the Islamic State of Iraq, and Abu Abdullah al Hussieni al Qurshi, was named the deputy emir.
The attacks on Iraqi security forces are occurring as the US has drawn down its forces from a peak of 170,000 troops in 2008 down to below 50,000 today. The US has withdrawn its combat brigades from Iraq and reconfigured its remaining forces to conduct an “advise and assist” mission. More than 4,500 US special operations forces with their Iraqi counterparts are actively hunting al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian-sponsored Shia terrorists.
In early June, the US military claimed that al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership has been dealt a near-fatal blow during a series of raids.
“Over the last 90 days or so, we’ve either picked up or killed 34 out of the top 42 al Qaeda in Iraq leaders,” General Ray Odierno, the commander of US Forces – Iraq, told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing in early June. “They’re clearly now attempting to reorganize themselves … They’re struggling a little bit. They’ve broken — they’ve lost connection with AQSL [al Qaeda Senior Leadership] in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”