Baghdad Multiple-Bombing Toll Rises to 64 Dead; 360 Injured

The toll from multiple bombings across Baghdad late yesterday rose to 64 dead and 360 wounded, the Health Ministry said. The Associated Press said more than 73 people had died, citing police and hospital officials.

The bombs, which began to explode at about 6:15 p.m. local time, targeted popular markets, restaurants and cafes. In total there were about 20 blasts, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television reported today. At least 15 were car bombs, while others were improvised explosive devices, it said.

The attacks took place in the districts of al-Khadimiya, al-Doura, Sadr City and at least nine other neighborhoods, Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad Military Command, said yesterday. The areas hit were immediately closed off and a curfew was imposed by police in the capital.

Iraq has suffered an increase in violence as political leaders argue over the makeup of a new government eight months after parliamentary elections. The U.S. completed the withdrawal of combat troops from the country in August, leaving a force of fewer than 50,000, down from about 144,000 at the start of 2009.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the recent attacks “are politically motivated” and meant to block the formation of the government, the National Iraqi News Agency said today.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed to continue targeting the country’s Christian minority, according to a statement posted on the Internet late yesterday. Gunmen from the group entered a Baghdad church on Oct. 31, resulting in a siege and the deaths of 58 worshippers, AP reported. Al-Qaeda also announced the expiration of its deadline for the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt to free Muslim women whom the militant group says are being held captive, AP said.

There has been no statement of responsibility for yesterday’s violence.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kadhim Ajrash in Baghdad at kadhimajrash@yahoo.com; Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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