BAGHDAD - At least 23 people died and 83 were injured Monday in a series of bombings in Iraq, the country plunged into a political crisis, aggravated by demonstrations against the Shiite-dominated government.
About 15 attacks took place in 13 cities of the north, center and south of the country, officials said. The attacks were directed against government officials, security forces and Shiite Muslim community against in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Diyala, and in Babylon, south of Baghdad.
So far, no group has claimed such attacks. But Sunni insurgents and the Islamic State in Iraq, a group linked to Al Qaeda in the country, regularly attack the Shiites during religious celebrations of this community. Most of the attacks were directed against Shiite pilgrims before the start, this week, the celebration of the feast of Arbaeen or "40 days", which marks the fortieth day after the death of Imam Hussein, the son of Ali and grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, one of the most respected figures of Shi'ism. In the deadliest attack killed seven people, including three women and two children, in the explosion of three houses in the city of Musayeb, south of Baghdad, according to a local police officer and a doctor.
Other people were injured in this attack apparently directed against the Shia community. South of Baghdad, Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Kerbala, were the target of attacks with mortars. A pilgrim was killed and nine others wounded. In Diyala, 19 people were injured, including 10 pilgrims on their way to Karbala. In Hilla, capital of the province of Babylon, a car bomb exploded outside the governor's office, killing two people and leaving 19 injured.
The governor, who at the time was coming to his office, was unhurt, officials said. The attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital left 13 dead. Authorities cordoned off the area of Kerrada in Baghdad, site of a suicide car bomber, preventing journalists from approaching.
Security forces also deplored dead, especially in the regions of Kirkuk and Mosul (north), where eight policemen were killed. These attacks occur against a backdrop of rising tensions between Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused by his detractors seize power, and the Iraqiya bloc, a secular formation supported by Sunni member of the fragile coalition government.
The government called on Monday to end the demonstrations, deemed illegal, against Maliki in several Sunni-majority provinces, and called on officials in the north to ignore the general strike called. These protest movements involved after the arrest, on December 20, for "terrorism", at least nine guards Rifaa Finance Minister to Isawi, a Sunni member of Iraqiya.
The attacks are still very common in Iraq despite decreased significantly since the peak years of 2006 and 2007, marked by sectarian violence particularly deadly.