October 27, 2009 / 6:05 PM / 10 years ago

Parties blame security forces for Baghdad bombings

* Baghdad governor says remove security heads * No progress on election law

* Shi’ite alliance calls for security reform



By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Politicians blamed the security forces on Tuesday for Iraq’s bloodiest bombing in two years, and an al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attack in which 155 people were killed.

Two high-profile attacks in the last two months have raised doubts about the ability of Iraq’s nascent security apparatus to ensure the nation’s safety after U.S. soldiers pulled out of major cities ahead of a full withdrawal in 2011.

A police source said Iraqi army units had rounded up dozens of people they suspected of involvement in Sunday’s attacks, which also wounded more than 500 people.

Iraq’s political parties, jockeying for position ahead of January parliamentary elections, rounded on the security forces.

The governor of Baghdad province Salah Abdul-Razzaq accused them of cowering behind well-fortified compounds instead of providing security.

"If they cannot protect us, we will protect ourselves by our own means," Abdul-Razzaq of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Dawa party said in a news conference broadcast on local television.

He called for the resignation of the interior minister and the head of security operations in Baghdad.

The Islamic State in Iraq — an al Qaeda-linked organisation — said it was behind the bombings near the Justice Ministry and the capital’s provincial building. [ID:nLR312546]

Iraq, which holds the world’s third largest crude oil reserves, is trying to rebuild its shattered infrastructure and economy after years of war, sanctions, and the sectarian violence that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion.



NO PROGRESS IN PARLIAMENT

Bickering over an election law has cast doubt on the precise timing of the parliamentary polls. On Tuesday, parliament was still deadlocked over how the vote should be conducted in the northern city of Kirkuk, an area rich in oil that is claimed by ethnic Kurds as their ancestral home.

Lawmakers rejected a proposal submitted by a high-ranking council that included Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.

Security experts cite disorganization and internal rivalries among the Iraqi military, intelligence and police forces as underlying causes for security lapses.

Iraq’s main Shi’ite alliance, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), which will run against Maliki in the upcoming election, called for parliamentary oversight of the intelligence services and a re-evaluation of border security.

"INA is calling on the Iraqi government to review and reconsider border security agreements with neighbours and build a regional security system to help establish regional peace and security and stop the infiltration of terrorists."







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