Al-Qaida claims responsibilty for deadly attacks on anniversary of Iraq invasion

Associated Press

BAGHDAD — An al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq claimed responsibility on Wednesday for bloody attacks that killed dozens of people across the country a day earlier.

In a statement posted on a militant website, the Islamic State of Iraq said the car bombs and other explosions came to avenge the executions and “massacres” of convicted Sunni inmates held in Iraqi prisons.

Most of the nearly 20 attacks on Tuesday, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, targeted Shiite areas in Baghdad. They killed 65 and wounded more than 200, demonstrating in stark terms how dangerously divided Iraq remains more than a year after American troops withdrew.

The al-Qaida statement warned the Shiite-led government to stop executing Sunni prisoners or “expect more bad events … and seas of blood.”

“What has reached you on Tuesday was the first drop of rain, and a first phase … that will be followed by more revenge,” it said.

Also on Wednesday police said a car bomb exploded during rush hour in eastern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding four.

A medical official in a nearby hospital confirmed the casualty figures. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Violence has ebbed sharply since the height of insurgency, but militants are still able to stage high-profile lethal attacks.

The sacrifice by American military members was recalled by U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) in a statement marking the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I want to extend my personal gratitude and appreciation to the members of our Armed Forces who served in Iraq,” said Grimm.

“As a Marine combat Veteran of the 1st Gulf War I understand the hardships many of our returning service members face as they return home. I am committed to ensuring that the members of our Armed Forces receive the benefits they have earned as they join the ranks of our nation’s honored veterans.

“Let us all remember the remarkable sacrifices of these men and woman who served us proudly in uniform and the immense contribution of their families as well; we should all salute them and remember them in our prayers.”

Advance News reporter Kiawana Rich contributed to this report.

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