BAGHDAD - At least 60 people were killed and scores injured in a series of deadly bombings in Iraq Thursday, December 22, amid a lingering political crisis in the country following the US withdrawal.
"We heard the sound of a car driving, then car brakes, then a huge explosion," Maysoun Kamal, who lives in a Karrada compound, told Reuters.
"All our windows and doors are blown out, black smoke filled our apartment."
In total at least 57 people were killed and 179 were wounded in more than ten explosions in Baghdad, an Iraqi health ministry spokesman said.
At least 18 people were killed when a suicide bomber driving an ambulance detonated the vehicle near a government office in the Karrada district, officials said.
Two roadside bombs also struck the southwestern Amil district, killing at least seven people and wounding 21 others.
A car bomb also blew up in a Shiite neighborhood in Doura in the south, killing three people and wounding six, police said.
More bombs ripped into the central Alawi area, Shaab and Shula in the north, all mainly Shiite areas.
A roadside bomb also killed one and wounded five near the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya, police said.
The upsurge in violence came shortly after the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq earlier this month.
Thursday's attacks represented the first major assault in Baghdad since November when three bombs exploded in a commercial district and another blast hit the city's western outskirts on Saturday, killing at least 13 people.
Violence in Iraq has ebbed since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, when suicide bombers and hit squads targeted Sunni and Shiite communities in attacks that killed thousands of people.
Iraq is still fighting a stubborn, lower-grade insurgency with Sunni and Shiite militias, who US officials say are backed by Iran, still staging daily attacks.
The violence comes amid a deepening political crisis in Iraq after Shiite premier Nouri Al-Maliki threatened to shut Sunnis from power.
"If they (Sunnis) insist, they are free to do so and they can withdraw permanently from the state and all its institutions," Maliki said Wednesday.
The main Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc has boycotted parliament over an arrest warrant issued by Maliki against Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashimi.
Maliki says that Hashemi, who is taking refuge with Kurds in the north, faces charges of organized assassination and bombings and bombings.
Maliki has also asked parliament to fire his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq after he likened Maliki to Saddam.
The moves against the senior Sunni leaders have stirred sectarian tensions because Sunnis fear the prime minister wants to consolidate Shiite control.
Iraq's Sunni minority have felt marginalized since the rise of the Shiite majority in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion.Many Sunnis feel they have been shunted aside in the power-sharing agreement that Washington touts as a young democracy.