BAGHDAD (AFP) – More than 60 security force members including 11 officers have been arrested over twin bombings in Baghdad that killed 153 people, army spokesman General Qasim Atta told AFP on Thursday.
Those arrested were deployed in the Salhiya section of the capital where the devastating suicide blasts on Sunday targeted government buildings and wrought havoc in the streets, said Atta, spokesman for Baghdad military command.
“The commission of inquiry into the double attack on Sunday ordered the arrest of 11 officers of various ranks and 50 members of the security forces responsible for the protection of Salhiya,” he said.
The health ministry said on Thursday the toll from the attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda but blamed by the government on members of the outlawed Baath party stood at 153 people killed and more than 500 wounded.
Among those arrested, said Atta, are four senior army officers and seven senior policemen, including the chief of police of Salhiya under whose jurisdiction the justice ministry, one of the targets of the attacks, falls.
Also rounded up, he added, are the commanders of 15 security checkpoints in Salhiya.
Baghdad’s governor, Salah Abdul Razzaq, on Monday blamed negligence or even collusion by the security forces for the bombings in the heart of the capital, Iraq’s deadliest day in more than two years.
“It’s a human failure… It can only be negligence or collusion,” Razzaq told AFP, noting that footage showed a white Renault truck carrying two tonnes of explosives driving up to the justice ministry building.
The logo of the Department of Water in Fallujah, a former insurgent bastion west of Baghdad, was painted on the side of the truck, he said. “How did it get from Fallujah to here?”
Trucks are barred from entering Baghdad, especially Salhiya neighborhood, during daylight hours.
Razzaq said that the vehicle that was blown up in front of the other target, a provincial government building, was a Kia minibus.
Defense ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP earlier this week that security forces raided two houses in Baghdad, where they found bomb-making materials, and made arrests, but did not specify how many.
“It looks like the same materials used on Bloody Wednesday,” he said, referring to August 19 bombings at government ministries in Baghdad that killed around 100 people.
Askari said the evidence found confirmed the bombers were linked to Al-Qaeda and supporters of the Baath Party of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.