An Al-Qaeda front group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks that cost 33 lives, in a website statement posted yesterday.
“The targets were government, security and army centers” and Shiites as well as Sunni “traitors,” it said on jihadist website Honein.
The bombings and shootings in 10 cities and towns across Iraq last Sunday that also left more than 100 wounded rounded off the deadliest month in Iraq for more than two years, with a total of 365 people killed in September. While insurgents opposed to the Baghdad government are regarded as weaker than in past years, they are still capable of launching periodic mass-casualty attacks across the country.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki has asked the electoral commission to push ahead with planning for provincial elections in April, his media adviser said yesterday, despite legal challenges that could end in the dissolution of the commission.
The provincial elections will serve as an indicator of the strength of Iraq’s political groupings ahead of a parliamentary vote due in 2014.
“The prime minister received the members of the Independent Electoral Commission (IHEC) in his office on Thursday and called on them to hold the provincial council elections on schedule, without any delay,” Ali Al-Moussawi said.
Moussawi gave no specific date for the vote, but said it would probably be held in April, in line with a decision by the previous electoral commission.
The new commission was approved in September, after more than six months of wrangling over the line-up, which includes four Shiites, two Sunnis, two Kurds and a Turkmen woman.
But the body still faces a number of legal challenges from political groups, civil society organizations and minorities who have lodged appeals with the Federal Court. It is not clear when the Federal Court will rule on the appeals.
The IHEC now has 60 days to announce the timing of the vote.
According to the constitution, provincial elections are held every four years in Iraq.
The Iraqi political arena has seen intense jostling in the last year, with many new coalitions and parties emerging in the run-up to the election.