Sweeping Attacks Kill 50 Across Iraq

String of coordinated bombings strike 12 cities

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 23, 2012 7:36 AM CST

(Newser) – 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.

Ahmed Ali inspects his destroyed car after a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.
Ahmed Ali inspects his destroyed car after a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Iraqi firefighters try to extinguish a burning bus at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.
Iraqi firefighters try to extinguish a burning bus at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
People inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Karradah in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.
People inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Karradah in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Iraqi firefighters try to extinguish a burning bus at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Karradah in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.
Iraqi firefighters try to extinguish a burning bus at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Karradah in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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