60 killed when bombs rip through Iraqi cities, dozens also injured in violence
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KUT, Iraq - Bomb blasts ripped through more than a dozen Iraqi cities Monday, killing 60 security forces and civilians in the worst attack this year, one that highlighted al-Qaida’s resolve and ability to wreak havoc.
The bloodbath comes less than two weeks after Iraqi officials said they would be open to a small number of U.S. forces staying in the country past a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.
The blasts were coordinated to go off Monday morning and included parked car bombs, roadside bombs, a suicide bomber driving a vehicle that rammed into a police station and even bombs attached to lightpoles.
The scope of the violence — seven explosions went off in different towns in Diyala province alone — emphasized that insurgents are still able to carry out attacks despite repeated crackdowns by Iraqi and U.S. forces.
Iraqis were furious at security officials and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“Where is the government with all these explosions across the country? Where is al-Maliki? Why doesn’t he come to see?” said Ali Jumaa Ziad, a shopowner in Kut, where the worst of the violence occurred. Ziad was brushing pieces of human flesh from the floor and off equipment in his shop.
Al-Maliki’s spokesman and the military spokesman did not answer telephone calls.
Twin explosions rocked the market in Kut, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, where Ziad works.
Police spokesman Lt. Col. Dhurgam Mohammed Hassan said the first bomb went off in a freezer used to keep drinks cold. As rescuers and onlookers gathered, a parked car bomb exploded; 35 people were killed and 64 injured.
Police sealed off the area where human flesh was scattered on the ground and bloodstained walls were punctured by shrapnel.
Earlier this month, Iraqi political leaders announced they would begin negotiations with the U.S. to determine whether to keep a small number of American forces in the country past Dec. 31.