An Iraqi police officer stands guard at a checkpoint. The car bombers in Tuesday’s attack reportedly had no difficulty getting through security checkpoints.
Baghdad was shaken by at least 15 explosions Tuesday, with an estimated death toll ranging from 76 to more than 100. The bombers appeared to favor Shiite targets and were unhindered by Iraqi security.
The scale of the attacks, and the ease with which car bombs were again able to penetrate security cordons, constitute a damaging blow for Iraq’s security forces, which have remained without effective leadership for eight months owing to the crippling political crisis that has seen politicians unable to form a government. Residents have dreaded a slide towards sectarian violence. Many have used the relative lack of large-scale violence this year to reopen businesses and re-establish lives put on hold by eight years of war.
Car bombings had been rare since January, apart from several days of widespread nationwide violence in April and late August. Security chiefs immediately blamed al-Qaida for the latest attacks. Al-Qaida in Iraq is an umbrella group for many Sunni Islamist organisations who align to a global jihadi worldview that identifies Shia Muslims and Christians as mortal foes.