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Iraqi security forces say politicians were behind Iraq attacks

In one example, a policeman near one of the six Baghdad checkpoints attacked in a wave of Iraq attacks yesterday said political parties were taking advantage of the tenuous security situation.

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The highest death tolls were in the mainly Shiite cities of Hilla and Basra. The attacks were aimed at Shiite civilians and seemed designed to reignite sectarian violence. In Hilla, south of Baghdad, two car bombs detonated outside a textile factory killed at least 50 people. In Basra, considered one of the safest of Iraqi cities since Iraqi forces drove out Shiite militias two years ago, more than 30 people were killed in three marketplace bombings.

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But it was in Baghdad, where attackers launched a chillingly coordinated string of predawn attacks on checkpoints, that security forces were carefully targeted. At six checkpoints across the city at roughly the same time, men with submachine guns fitted with silencers shot and killed seven policemen at close range. Policemen in the vicinity of one of the attacks said none of the attacks had the signature of Al Qaeda.

Sadr faction calls for emergency session

The Sadr movement – one of the members of the new Shiite alliance – has called for an emergency session to reconvene the former parliament to oversee security.

Shiite politician Qassim Dawood repeated the call on Tuesday, saying Monday's attacks indicated a breakdown in security. "It is of utmost importance that the legislative authority be reactivated until a new parliament is in place," he says.

Ayad Allawi, whose Iraqiya party won the most seats in Iraq's March 7 parliamentary election but has since faced legal challenges from Maliki's government, warned that political turmoil could plunge the country back into civil war that would have repercussions for the region.

"This conflict will not remain within the borders of Iraq," he told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published yesterday. "It will spill over and it has the potential to reach the world at large, not just neighboring countries."

Sahar Issa contributed to this report.