A rapid series of bombings and shootings exploded across 12 Iraqi cities today, in what appeared to be a large, coordinated al-Qaeda attack. The attacks hit government offices, restaurants, and in one case exploded close to a primary school, though security forces appeared to be the primary targets, the AP reports. No one has claimed responsibility yet, but targeting security forces is a hallmark of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has been launching high profile attacks every few weeks.
"What is happening today are not simple security violations—it is a huge security failure and disaster," says one government employee who was working near one of the blasts. "We want to know: What were the thousands of policemen and soldiers in Baghdad doing today?" A senior Iraqi intelligence official says he believes the attack had been planned for at least a month, and was intended to scare diplomats coming to Baghdad for an Arab League summit in March. (Read more al-Qaeda in Iraq stories.)