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Multiple attacks rip through Iraq, leaving at least 60 dead

The attacks, including suicide bombers, car bomb and gunfire, strike from north to south throughout the morning in what appears to be part of a coordinated plan. The bloodshed indicates that Iraq's security forces may be overwhelmed by insurgents as U.S. soldiers withdraw later this year.

August 15, 2011|By Jeffrey Fleishman and Raheem Salman | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Reporting from Cairo and Baghdad — A series of blasts and gunshots ripped across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 60 people in a day of bloodshed that indicated the nation's security forces may be overwhelmed by insurgents as American soldiers withdraw later this year.

The attacks, including suicide bombers, car explosions and gunfire, struck from north to south throughout the morning in what appeared to be part of a coordinated plan. Soldiers, police officers and market shoppers were targeted in Najaf, Kut, Baghdad, Baqubah and other provinces.

It was one of the most vicious days in months and struck in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan. The deadliest attack was in Kut, where an explosion whirled through a marketplace. As onlookers gathered minutes later, a car bomb detonated, killing at least 33 people and injuring 77, according to a security official.

In Diyala province, a series of car bombs and shootings left 14 people dead in a region known for Al Qaeda fighters. In Najaf, a suicide bomber detonated and five minutes later a parked car exploded near a police building, killing two police officers and four civilians. Five security officers and a counterterrorism chief were killed in suicide bombings in Tikrit.

Gunfire and explosions echoed through the capital. A car bomb exploded near a motorcade carrying an official from the Higher Education Ministry, killing one passerby and wounding seven police and civilians. Al Arabiya TV reported that a curfew had been imposed on several regions.

"The blame is on the American troops. They want to show the weakness of the Iraqi security forces," said Ali Sabih, owner of a food shop in Baghdad. "Iraqi troops are weak and they'll need more years before they're ready to protect the country."

The attacks came as the Iraqi government has said it would negotiate with Washington about retaining some of the nearly 50,000 U.S. troops in the country after a planned U.S. withdrawal this year.

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