Image: Gen. Abboud Qanbar, center, escorted by bodyguards, inspects the site of a bomb attack
Hadi Mizban  /  AP
Gen. Abboud Qanbar, center, escorted by bodyguards, inspects the site of a bomb attack near the new Finance Ministry building in Baghdad, Iraq.
updated 12/10/2009 6:43:35 PM ET 2009-12-10T23:43:35

Al-Qaida's umbrella group in Iraq claimed responsibility Thursday for coordinated Baghdad bombings this week that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500, warning of more strikes to come against the Iraqi government.

The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, said in a statement posted on the Internet that the attacks in the Iraqi capital targeted the "bastions of evil and dens of apostates."

It also warned the group is "determined to uproot the pillars of this government" in Iraq and said "the list of targets has no end." The authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified, but it was posted on a Web site commonly used for militant messaging.

The blasts Tuesday were the third major strike against government sites in the Iraqi capital since August, raising serious questions about the abilities of Iraqi security forces ahead of next's year national elections and the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.

Al-Qaida's claim gave renewed emphasis to U.S. military warnings that insurgents would likely continue high-profile attacks in an attempt to destabilize the Iraqi government in advance of the March 7 parliamentary elections.

Tough questions from lawmakers
Anger over Tuesday's security breaches forced Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Thursday to face tough questions from lawmakers in a closed session of parliament, where he deflected blame and blamed political discord for jeopardizing Iraq's stability, according to lawmakers.

Several lawmakers said the prime minister also cast blame on rival political blocs that he says prevented him from appointing a chief of intelligence as well as a lack of cooperation among security forces in Baghdad.

They said al-Maliki went so far as to blame a 2003 decision by the United States to disband the Iraqi army.

"His defense is not convincing," Sunni lawmaker Adnan al-Jibouri said.

Al-Maliki struck an agreement, however, during the hours-long session with lawmakers to have his top security chiefs appear next week before parliament's defense committee to answer more questions about Iraqi security, said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish lawmaker. The ministers have previously refused to attend two other sessions called after bombings on Aug. 19 and Oct. 25. More than 250 were killed in those attacks.

Al-Maliki was expected to give an update on the bombings during a meeting Friday with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who flew to Baghdad Thursday after wrapping up a three-day visit in Afghanistan.

Relations sour with Syria
Iraq has claimed al-Qaida and loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath party operating from Syria were behind the massive strikes in August and October, as well as the most recent bombings. Relations between the two countries soured after Baghdad accused Syria of harboring senior Baathists who masterminded the attacks. Syria has denied it.

While the U.S. military avoided comment Thursday on the validity of the bombing claim, it has said the August and October strikes bore the signature of al-Qaida. The group is known for suicide and vehicle-rigged bombings designed to inflict huge casualties.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, however, stressed that Iraq is in charge of safeguarding its people ahead of the national elections. "U.S. forces will provide security assistance for the elections as requested," said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros.

Al-Qaida also claimed responsibility Thursday in a separate Internet posting for last week's killing of Ahmed Subhi al-Fahal, known by al-Qaida and the American military as one of central Iraq's top counter-terror officials.

Al-Fahal, a lieutenant colonel in the Salahuddin provincial police force, was killed Dec. 3 in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Deadly blasts across Baghdad

loading photos...
  1. Iraqis react at the site of a bomb attack near the new Finance Ministry in Baghdad on Tuesday, Dec. 8. A series of coordinated attacks, including three car bombs that blew up near government sites, killed more than 120 people and wounded hundreds. (Hadi Mizban / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Firefighters and rescuers search for survivors near the new Finance Ministry. (Hadi Mizban / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Rescuers carry a victim of a bomb attack in central Baghdad. (Bassim Shati / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Rescuers evacuate a wounded man. (Khalid Mohammed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A civil defense member helps a wounded woman. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

    An Iraqi security person helps a wounded man. (Stringer/iraq / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A relative of a person killed in the bombings reacts at a hospital in Baghdad. (Karim Kadim / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A man surveys the damage after a bomb blast on Cairo Street in northern Baghdad. (Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. An Iraqi woman cries at the site of a car bomb attack that destroyed the al-Karkh courthouse in western Baghdad. (Ali Abbas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Rescue workers and firemen carry a body bag out of the site of a bomb blast at a criminal court building in west Baghdad's Mansur district. (Ali al-Saadi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers observe as rescue workers gather at the site of a bomb blast outside a criminal court building in west Baghdad's Mansur district. (Ali al-Saadi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Iraqi security forces gather at the site of a bomb attack near the Labor Ministry building in Baghdad. (Hadi Mizban / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Iraqis evacuate a wounded man after a bomb blast on Cairo Street in northern Baghdad. (Ahmad al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Iraqi security forces and rescuers search for survivors near the new Finance Ministry building. The old Finance Ministry was destroyed during attacks in August. (Khalid Mohammed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Security forces gather at the site of a bomb attack near the Labor Ministry building in Baghdad. (Hadi Mizban / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Smoke rises from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments