Iraq attacks kill 60
At least 60 people were killed and hundreds injured on Thursday in a series of car bombings and shooting attacks in Iraq, which the government blamed on al-Qaeda, dpa reported.
Twenty-two attacks were mounted in 19 areas in seven provinces, including the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said.
At least 18 people were killed when two car bombings exploded in the mainly Shiite Muslim district of Karrada in southern Baghdad, medical and security sources said.
Six others were killed in Kadhimiya, a mostly Shiite district in northern Baghdad, when a car bomb exploded, the sources said.
Gunmen also shot dead six people at a security checkpoint in the district of Sarafiya in Baghdad.
Attacks were also launched against police and military checkpoints in the provinces of Salah al-Din, Kirkuk, Diyala, Anbar, Nineveh and Babil, reported local media. The government raise the security level to a maximum after the attacks.
Authorities in Salah al-Din imposed a curfew in the province's capital city, Tikrit, for fear of more attacks.
The Interior Ministry accused al-Qaeda and unnamed foreign powers of being behind the attacks, the deadliest this week.
At least 16 people were killed Sunday in a suicide bombing outside a police training academy in Baghdad.
"These attacks aim at inciting sectarian and political tensions in Iraq, and undermining the national economy," added the ministry in a statement.
Meanwhile, parliament speaker Osama al-Najifi accused foreign powers of masterminding the attacks to derail Iraq's plan to host an annual Arab League summit slated for March 29.
"The Iraqi security agencies must take more measures to stop such terrorist acts," he added in a statement.
In the wake of the assaults, the Iraqiya Bloc, led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi, called on the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to resign, saying it had failed on security.
Security forces defused a car bomb that was parked near an industrial complex in the city of Mosul, some 405 kilometres north of Baghdad, the Iraqi website Alsumaria News reported.
Iraqis fear a surge in attacks by armed groups will prompt a sectarian conflict after US troops completed their withdrawal.