U.S. Condemns Iraq Bombing Wave; New Violence Kills Seven More

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -

Gun attacks and a bombing killed at least seven more people in Iraq on Sunday, police said, after a day of carnage aimed mainly at Shi’ite Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan.

The U.S. condemned a wave of car bombings which police and medical sources said killed nearly 80 people across Iraq on Saturday, saying those who had attacked civilians during Eid al-Fitr festivities were “enemies of Islam.”

Bombs tore through markets, shopping streets and parks late on Saturday as Iraqi families were out celebrating the end of Ramadan.

Iraq’s Interior Ministry said media reports about the attacks had been exaggerated in a way that would give a morale boost to attackers. It said 21 people had been killed across Iraq in the multiple attacks and that a recent security crackdown called “Avenge the Martyrs” had been effective.

Eighteen months since the last U.S. troops withdrew, Sunni Islamist terrorists have been gathering force in their insurgency against Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government.

The civil war in neighboring Syria has aggravated tensions and the Interior Ministry said last month it was facing an “open war.”

The State Department said Saturday’s attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida’s Iraqi (AQI) branch. It reiterated that it was offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the killing or capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the AQI leader.

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks today in Baghdad,” the State Department said. “The terrorists who committed these acts are enemies of Islam and a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community.”

Since last year, Iraq’s al-Qaida branch has merged with one of the most powerful Sunni Islamist rebel groups in Syria to form The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The group now controls towns and villages on both sides of the desert frontier, with access to funds, weapons and recruits.

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility last month for simultaneous raids on two Iraqi prisons and said more than 500 inmates had escaped in the brazen operation.