It’s been a terrible day in Baghdad, where at least 16 explosions in 13 different locations have killed dozens of people and left about 200 wounded, NPR’s Sean Carberry reports from the Iraqi capital.
He told Morning Edition host Renee Montagne that the “parked car bombs, suicide car bombs” and improvised explosive devices that all went off between 7 and 8 a.m. local time appeared to target civilians — an ominous contrast to the pattern in recent months of violence aimed at security forces.
In addition, Sean said, 12 of the attacks happened in predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhoods — which could be a sign of renewed hostility between Sunnis and Shiites in the country.
This comes, of course, less than a week after the departure of the last American combat troops after nearly nine years in the country.
As happens in situations such as this when authorities are still gathering information, accounts vary on the number of people killed and injured. The Associated Press writes that at least 57 people died and “nearly 200″ were hurt. The BBC is saying at least 63 people were killed and 185 injured. Al-Jazeera also reports at least 63 deaths, and has the number wounded at 176.
The one thing for certain: the toll is high and the attacks have raised concern that more such violence is to come.
As the AP notes:
“The blasts … came on the heels of a political crisis between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite factions that erupted this weekend. The political spat, which pits Iraq’s Shiite prime minister against the highest-ranking Sunni political leader, has raised fears that Iraq’s sectarian wounds will be reopened during a fragile time when Iraq is finally navigating its own political future without U.S. military support.
“While the string of explosions was likely not a direct response to the political Sunni-Shiite confrontation, it will ratchet up tensions at a time when many Iraqis are already worried about security. If continued, it could lead to the same type of tit-for-tat attacks that characterized the insurgency years ago.”