Al-Qaeda group claims responsibility for Iraq Eid attacks
Iraqis and policemen gather at the scene of an explosion in Nasiriyah, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP/STR)
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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda front group, on Sunday claimed a wave of attacks that reportedly killed 74 people and injured hundreds in Iraq during the Eid al-Fitr holiday a day earlier.
“The Islamic State mobilized... in Baghdad and the southern states and others to convey a quick message of deterrence on the third day of Eid al-Fitr” in response to security forces’ operations, a statement posted on jihadist forums said, AFP news agency reported,
The attacks came just weeks after assaults on prisons near Baghdad, also claimed by the al-Qaeda front group, freed hundreds of prisoners including leading militants.
The attackers were condemned as “enemies of Islam” by the United States, in an unusually detailed statement on the latest violence.
The State Department described the attacks as “cowardly” as they were “aimed at families celebrating the Eid al-Fitr” holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Car bombs had torn through Baghdad cafes and markets, as well as other blasts and shootings elsewhere, according to the U.S. statement.
“The terrorists who committed these acts are enemies of Islam and a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to the statement carried by AFP news agency.
Psaki, however, went further, reiterating the $10 million award offered for al-Qaeda in Iraq’s purported leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is believed to be sheltering in Syria.
Nine people were killed in fresh violence around the country on Sunday, according to AFP.