Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iraqi cell of al Qaeda has claimed a series of deadly attacks that have bloodied the capital and many parts of the country, causing at least 55 dead and about 225 wounded. The Islamic State of Iraq, this is the name of the extremist organization, allegedly struck the security forces and government officials, to "avenge the campaign of torture and eliminations" that Sunni men and women, "have to suffer in prison in Baghdad and in other cities. "
The claim of the Al Qaeda movement has appeared on a website yesterday evening, after repeated bloody attacks in 12 Iraqi cities. Over the past two months - since the departure of U.S. troops from the country, on December 31 last, after 9 years - al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist movements have stepped up their attacks against Shiites, fuelling fears of a new - unstoppable - wave of sectarian violence.
The government, a Shiite majority, has called the attacks a "desperate attempt" by fundamentalists to demonstrate that the nation will never be stable. The wave of violence yesterday left behind burned cars, bloodied classrooms, damaged buildings and wounded crowding hospitals, it also demonstrated the "vulnerability" of a nation marked by years of war and sectarian conflicts, that the departure of U.S. soldiers has not stopped.
Late yesterday afternoon, the authorities imposed a curfew on the city of Tikrit, a Sunni stronghold and birthplace of Saddam Hussein, in Hilla and other parts of the governorate of Babil, south of Baghdad. Last week, another 18 people were killed in a suicide attack, which struck the police academy in the capital.
Violence against the Shia majority, in a multiethnic country also composed of Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians, has increased since the government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (Shia) took action against top members of the Iraqiya bloc , which also includes Sunnis. Following the departure of U.S. troops, in fact, the government issued an arrest warrant against the Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi (Sunni), on charges of financing death squads. Hashemi vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country, under the protection of the regional government.