At Least 64 People Killed, More Than 190 People Wounded in Iraq Violence


(CNN) — In the wake of dramatic bloodshed in Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. State Department said it has offered a $10 million reward for information that helps authorities kill or capture the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, saying the group is behind most similar attacks this summer.

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At least 64 people were killed and 190 wounded in a wave of bombings that came amid Eid festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, two Interior Ministry officials told CNN.

The violence in Iraq came as Muslims celebrated the recent completion of Ramadan’s monthlong fasting. It followed a July that was the bloodiest in five years, when violence between Sunnis and Shiites — both Muslim sects — spun out of control.

In a press release Saturday, the State Department said the attacks “bear the hallmarks of suicide and vehicle attacks in Iraq over the past ninety days” and said most of those attacks were committed by al Qaeda in Iraq, which is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The $10 million bounty on al-Baghdadi’s head is second only to information leading to group’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the State Department said.

Saturday’s death toll included reports by Baghdad police that at least 22 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded after eight car bombs exploded in Shiite neighborhoods.

In Tuz Khurmatou, about 180 kilometers, or 112 miles, north of Baghdad, at least eight people were killed and more than 40 others were wounded when a suicide car bomber exploded on a commercial corridor.

Tuz Khurmatou is an ethnically mixed city of Arab, Kurd and Turkmen residents.

In Mosul, at least eight people were killed and 12 others were wounded in two separate explosions in the city. Mosul is a largely Sunni city about 400 kilometers, or 248 miles, north of Baghdad.

In Nasiriya, a car bomb exploded on a busy road, killing four people and wounding 12. Nasiriya is located in the heavily Shiite region of southern Iraq and is about 400 kilometers outside of Baghdad.

In Karbala, about 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, south of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near a bus station, killing two people and wounding 15 others. Karbala is a Shiite city.

The bloodshed appears to mark a new round of violence to hit Iraq in recent months, much of it stemming from decades-old discord between the nation’s Sunnis and Shiites, the two largest branches of Islam.

Sunnis have felt politically marginalized under a Shiite-led government since the ouster of longtime leader Saddam Hussein in a 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The enmity is further deepened by the fact Saddam’s Baathist regime was composed mostly of Sunnis during more than two decades of dictatorship and was violently repressive against Shiites.

July was the deadliest month in Iraq since the peak of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007. According to figures released by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, 1,057 Iraqis were killed and another 2,326 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence last month.

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