By Frank James
In what's become a fairly predictable action-spurs-reaction pattern following successful operations of Iraq's Shiite-led government against the Sunni al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist organization, a series of bombs exploded in Baghdad's Shiite areas and beyond Friday, killing at least 56 and wounding 120 people.
NPR correspondent Quill Lawrence in Baghdad reported the following for the network's newscast:
Bombs destroyed four houses in the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar Province, west of Baghdad. Their targets: a police detective and a judge, escaped with their lives, but the blasts killed neighbors, including four member of one family.
In Baghdad, as Shiite worshippers left Friday prayer services, bombs attached to cars or motocycles exploded outside areas cordoned off by local mosque security.
Al-Qaida-related groups in Iraq are often blamed for attacks against unarmed Shi'ite civilians - the blasts today may be in response to what Iraqi and American authorities have heralded as a hugely successful campaign to roll up al-Qaida's leadership. Dozens of suspected insurgent cadres have been killed or captured in the past week.
Reuters offered some additional details:
Thirteen blasts hit different areas of the Iraqi capital around the time of Muslim prayers, mostly near Shiite mosques and at a marketplace, an Interior Ministry source said.
Three bombs targeted worshipers outside the main office of fiery anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the crowded Sadr City slum. Those blasts killed 39 people and wounded 56, generating denunciations of the security forces. Some youths threw stones at an Iraqi army vehicle.
"Why do they always target us? We are peaceful people. We come to pray and then go on our way," one survivor told Reuters Television in an angry tirade, without identifying himself.
The attacks, one of Iraq's deadliest in recent weeks, also wounded around 120 people and signaled the possibility of a rise in violence after a March national election produced no clear winner and left a power vacuum for insurgents to exploit.