Last Updated 4/30 11:20 AM EST
A pair of car bombs exploded in a crowded commercial center in Baghdad’s Shi’ite district of Sadr City, killing at least 51 and wounding at least 76 others. The cars exploded in front of a restaurant and an ice cream stand. A spokesman for the Iraqi military said the attacks are believed to be reprisals for the reported capture of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
The attacks come less than a week after a string of bombings killed over 160 people in two days. Last Thursday was the deadliest day Iraq had seen in a year, with over 90 people killed in a pair of bombings targeting Shi’ites (including many pilgrims from neighboring Iran). The next day bombers attacked a crowded Shi’ite shrine in Baghdad, killing 66 others.
The past two months have seen a significant uptick is violence against Iraq’s Shi’ite majority, and the Maliki Administration has tended to blame a combination of al-Qaeda and the remnants of the Ba’athist government ousted in the 2003 US invasion for the attacks.
US officials have downplayed the rising violence, insisting it was the work of small cells and not a serious threatto the US military presence or to the Maliki government. On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the rising violence showed “that Iraq is going in the right direction.”