A deadly wave of attacks across Iraq gripped the nation on Thursday with over 90 people confirmed dead by Iraqi officials just days before the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The total number of confirmed dead stands at 93 on Saturday, with many more wounded, according to the Associated Press.
Shi’a lawmaker, Hakim Al-Zamili, who is also a member of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, blamed Al-Qaeda for Thursday’s attacks. “Al-Qaida wants to send a clear message to the Iraqi people that the terrorists are still strong and able to harm them despite the huge amount of funds spent on the Iraqi security forces,” Al-Zamili told the AP.
The attacks on Thursday involved car bombs, the largest cause of casualties from terrorist attacks in Iraq, as well as smaller explosive devices such as bomb-vests. The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, released a statement in which he calls the acts “appalling.” Koler further stated that the attackers “violate the spirit of peace associated with this holiest of times in the Muslim year.”
So far, no one has claimed responsibility, but Iraq believes the attacks are the work of an Al-Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State of Iraq. Thursday’s attacks, which are large-scale, coordinated suicide bombings, fit their profile.
The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Iraq recorded last month, when at least 116 people were killed after their coordinated attack targeted 18 different Iraqi towns and cities in 30 separate attacks. The attack was part of the Islamic State of Iraq’s “Destroying the Walls Campaign” to reclaim territory the group lost during the US-led Iraq invasion.
The Islamic State of Iraq is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, but since 2007 has had a tense relationship with Al-Qaeda due to their targeting of Iraqi civilians while the Al-Qaeda leadership has wanted the group to focus on fighting the foreign presence within the country. Earlier this year, the Islamic State of Iraq began urging insurgents to fight the Syrian government, which is in itself an off-shoot of Shia Islam.
Thursday was the second deadliest day of attacks since the withdrawal of US soldiers in December last year. 190 people have died as a result of violent attacks across Iraq in August alone.