BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Bombs killed five Iraqi policemen and at least two civilians Thursday, police said, and the vice president blamed insurgents trying to delay this month’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from towns and cities.
A string of attacks has cast doubt on the ability of Iraqi forces to keep the lid on a stubborn insurgency after U.S. combat troops pull back from towns and cities by June 30.
Thursday’s blasts came just a day after at least 72 people died in a market bombing in Baghdad.
“The political nature of these attacks is becoming clear. They are an attempt to delay or suspend the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraqi urban centres according to the timetable,” Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi said in a statement.
Police in the once turbulent but recently secure western city of Falluja said a roadside bomb there destroyed a police vehicle and killed all five policemen inside.
Falluja in Anbar province was once the heartland of the rebellion against the U.S. military and government forces.
Hours later, at least two people died and 30 others were wounded when another bomb struck a crowded bus terminal in the south of the capital, a hospital source said.
In eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said nine U.S. soldiers were wounded when two roadside bombs hit their patrol.
Violence has dropped sharply across Iraq in the past year, but militants including Sunni Islamist al Qaeda continue to launch car and suicide bombings aimed at undermining the Shi’ite Muslim-led government and reigniting sectarian conflict.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a member of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority, urged the world Thursday to denounce the bloodshed.
“We call on the international community, especially Arabic and Islamic states, to make a clear and decisive stance against these hateful crimes,” he said in a statement.
“Keeping silent is no longer an acceptable stance.”
Late Wednesday, an explosion tore through a busy second-hand market in eastern Baghdad’s Sadr City slum, killing 72 people just four days after U.S. forces handed control of the Shi’ite area to Iraqi troops and police.
Saturday, a massive truck bomb killed 73 people near the northern city of Kirkuk. That and the Sadr City market bombing were the bloodiest attacks in the country for more than a year.
Maliki has urged Iraqis not to lose heart if insurgents take advantage of the U.S. military drawdown to step up attacks.
Analysts say attacks are also likely to intensify ahead of a parliamentary election in January that will be a test of whether the country’s feuding factions can live together after years of sectarian slaughter unleashed by the 2003 U.S. invasion.