Widespread insurgent attacks kill at least 44 in Iraq (+video)
On Sunday, a string of attacks against Iraqi security forces struck 11 cities, wounded nearly 240 people, and killed at least 44. The violence is thought to be an attempt to undermine the government.
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Al-Qaida's Iraq franchise, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq, has for years had a hot-and-cold relationship with the global terror network's leadership. The two shared the goal of targeting the U.S. military in Iraq and, to an extent, undermining the Shiite government that replaced Saddam Hussein's regime.Skip to next paragraph
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But al-Qaida leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri distanced themselves from the Iraqi militants in 2007 because their attacks also killed Iraqi civilians instead of focusing on Western targets.
A string of smaller attacks Sunday also struck nine other cities, including Baghdad.
In the capital's eastern Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, roadside bombs killed a policeman and a passer-by, security and health officials said. Another eight people, including four soldiers, were wounded, the officials said.
The blast in Basra killed three people and wounded 24, while the bomb in Tal Afar killed two passers-by and wounded seven, officials said.
A pair of car bombs in southern Maysan province killed five people and wounded 40 outside a Shiite shrine to Imam Ail al-Sharqi, said the holy site's director, Ammar Abdullah.
A roadside bomb in Taji, just north of Baghdad, left two passers-by dead and 11 injured, and explosions in the Sunni towns of Hawija and Ar Riyad, outside the flashpoint city of Kirkuk north of Baghdad, wounded seven people.
In Tuz Khormato near the city of Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, a car bomb outside of a market killed four and wounded 41 people, said Salahuddin provincial health director Raeed Ibrahim. And in Kirkuk itself, Qadir said three midmorning explosions, two car bombs and a roadside bomb, killed seven and wounded about 70.
Kirkuk has been a flashpoint for years with its mix of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all claim rights to the city and the oil-rich land that surrounds it.
Kurdish leaders long have sought to draw Kirkuk into their self-rule region of Iraq's three northernmost provinces, and have pushed for a census to determine the city's ethnic majority. But the majority Arab central government in Baghdad has delayed the census, which could incite widespread ethnic violence over Kirkuk's future.