The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq’s political front, appears to have executed yet another coordinated attack in multiple cities across Iraq. The attacks today, which killed 58 Iraqis, including soldiers and policemen, hit a range of targets in Amara, Basrah, and Nassiriyah in the south; in Dujail, Baquba, and Samarra in central Iraq; and in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmato in the north. One of the attacks was a complex suicide assault against a military base in Dujail that resulted in the deaths of 11 Iraqi soldiers.
The most serious of the bombings, blasts and shootings on Sunday happened near the city of Amara, 300 km (185 miles) south of Baghdad, when two car bombs exploded outside a Shi’ite shrine and a market place, killing at least 16 people, officials said.
“So far 16 corpses were brought to the hospital, and more than 100 people were wounded,” said Sayid Hasanain, a local health official.
With its main hospital overflowing with injured from the attacks, mosques in Amara used prayer loudspeakers to call for blood donations.
Overnight in Dujail, 50 km (30 miles) north of Baghdad, gunmen and a suicide bomber driving a car attacked a military base, killing 11 soldiers and injuring seven, police said.
Later on Sunday, a car bomb killed eight people queuing for jobs as police guards for the Iraqi North Oil Company in the flashpoint city of Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, police said.
Kirkuk was hit by several other blasts. A car bomb and a bomb packed into a motorcycle detonated outside a crime investigation office, killing seven and wounding 40.
More people were killed in several other blasts across the country, including in the towns of Baquba, Samarra, Basra and Tuz Khurmato.
The car bomb that exploded outside the French consular building in the usually stable city of Nassiriya, 300 km south of Baghdad, killed a police guard and wounded four other guards, authorities said. The consul, an Iraqi citizen, was not at the office at the time of the attack.
Two other people were killed and three wounded by a separate car bomb in the city.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has stepped up attacks since the end of last year, when US forces completed their withdrawal from the country. While the terror group does not openly control territory as it did in 2007, before US and Iraqi forces drove it from strongholds throughout the country, al Qaeda in Iraq can still organize and execute large-scale attacks, such as the Haditha raid in March that killed 27 soldiers. The group has also demonstrated the ability to launch coordinated attacks in multiple cities throughout the country at least one or two times a month.
Keep in mind that al Qaeda in Iraq is keeping up the tempo of attacks in Iraq even as it is devoting resources to fight President Bashir al Assad’s regime in Syria.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.