A series of bombings in central Iraq killed 28 people Monday, as a government official claimed that al Qaeda-linked fighters have dug in to a city they seized last month and possess enough heavy weapons to storm into the country’s capital.
The bombings, mainly in Baghdad marketplaces and court buildings, came as the army presses an all-out offensive announced Sunday to retake the area, but has come up against heavy resistance.
Since late December, members of Iraq’s al-Qaeda branch known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have taken over parts of Ramadi, the capital of the largely Sunni western province of Anbar. They also control the centre of the nearby city of Fallujah, along with other non al-Qaeda groups that also oppose the Shia-led government.
“The weapons that were brought inside Fallujah are huge and advanced and frankly enough to occupy Baghdad,” Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi said in a speech, adding that Iraqi forces are still fighting “fierce battles” there and in Ramadi. He did not elaborate on the type or quantity of the weapons.
Inside Ramadi, police said a roadside bomb hit a police convoy, killing two policemen and a local TV cameraman who had been accompanying the police during the clashes.
The deadliest of Monday’s blasts hit an outdoor market south of the capital, killing seven people and wounding 13, police said. A bomb in a nearby commercial street killed two more, while another three died and seven were wounded in a southeastern district. Another bomb in a northern suburb killed three and wounded six. Hospital officials confirmed the death toll for all attacks. There has been no claim of responsibility for the latest attacks.