Baghdad blasts toll rises to 139

October 27th, 2009 - 1:11 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, Oct 26 (DPA) Iraqi Health Minister Saleh al-Haswany said Monday that the toll in Sunday’s twin truck bomb suicide attacks was at least 139 but the figure is feared to go yet higher amid the ongoing search in the rubble for victims.
The Al-Arabiya news channel reported 155 deaths and at least 700 injured after the two truck bombs went off near the Ministry of Justice and Baghdad Council buildings in central Baghdad.

The attack was the second largest to target government buildings in the Iraqi capital after a series of blasts Aug 19, when some 10 bombs struck the capital, killing more than 100 persons and injuring some 1,200.

Meanwhile, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani on Monday called on neighbouring countries to stop providing support to terrorists.

“Our neighbouring countries should immediately stop providing sanctuary and financial support to terrorists,” Talabani said in what was taken as an apparent reference to Syria without naming it.

Baghdad has accused Damascus of giving sanctuary to former Iraqi Baathist leaders whom it blames for planning the August attacks.

Talabani’s call came a day after Interior Minister Jihad al-Boulani said Sunday’s blasts were connected with the August attacks.

Following Sunday’s bombing, the Iraqi security apparatus came under fire over its ability to maintain security after US troops had pulled out of Iraqi city centres in June. A complete US withdrawal from the country is to take place by the end of 2011.

“These blasts show a real defect in the performance of the security apparatus in all aspects including the planning, coordination, and implementation,” Iraqi MP Hady al-Ameri was quoted as saying in the Iraqi al-Mashreq newspaper.

Military spokesman Qassem Atta told reporters on Sunday that investigations will be carried out and that “everyone responsible will be charged for the shortcomings.”

Roughly two months ahead of key parliamentary elections, the attacks also come as a blow to Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki efforts to campaign on improved security as his biggest achievement.

The blasts are also expected to overshadow Iraqi officials’ efforts to convince the international community to invest in Iraq on the basis of safe security conditions.

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