Iraq on Tuesday was rocked by a nationwide string of bombings that killed at least 43 people and put on edge authorities who are set to host next week the Arab summit — a symbol of the country's diplomatic resurgence after years of conflict.

An explosion in Baghdad targeted the Foreign Ministry, where dozens of employees have been working round the clock for the summit. The car blast killed three people outside the Ministry but failed to breach the outer security perimeter of the building. The bombing was a grisly reminder of the attack on the Foreign and Finance ministries in 2009 that killed scores of people. Another attack in the capital's Allawi neighbourhood killed five.

Shia pilgrims

Tuesday's bombings appeared indiscriminate, targeting Shia pilgrims, a Sunni stronghold in Anbar province, civilians and security personnel. They also took place on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq led by the United States.

Karbala, a major Shia pilgrim centre, was badly hit when a car bomb exploded at Baghdad Gate square.

Thirteen pilgrims, including four from Iran, were killed. Explosions also rocked Hilla and Samarra, both Shia dominated cities, and the Al Anbar province, where the concentration of Sunnis is higher.

At least 10 security personnel were killed in Kirkuk, which sits over huge reserves of oil whose control has been the source of conflict among the area's ethnically and religiously divided communities. The attack took place in the early hours when the shift of personnel stationed overnight was changing.

Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi said the attacks were masterminded by the al-Qaeda, which wanted to “derail the Arab summit, and keep Iraq feeling the effects of violence and destruction”.

Martin Kobler, the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy, described the attacks as “atrocious” and said it should not go unpunished.

Keywords: Iraq bombings

More In: International | News