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Wave of bombings kills 26 across Iraq

Death toll for month near 200

Residents observed the site of a bomb explosion in Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad.

Saad Shalash/Reuters

Residents observed the site of a bomb explosion in Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD — A series of coordinated bombings shattered Shi’ite neighborhoods and struck at Iraqi security forces Sunday, killing at least 26 in attacks that one official described as a rallying call by Al Qaeda just days after dozens of militants escaped from prison.

The blasts brought September’s death toll from sectarian violence to nearly 200 people — an above-average monthly total for the period since US troops left last year. The steady pace of attacks has worked to undermine confidence in the government.

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‘‘The people are fed up with the killings in Iraqi cities,’’ said Ammar Abbas, 45, a Shi’ite and government employee who lives in a Baghdad neighborhood near one of the bombings. ‘‘The government officials should feel shame for letting their people die at the hands of terrorists.’’

Police said the wave of explosions stretched from the restive city of Kirkuk in the north to the southern Shi’ite town of Kut, wounding at least 94 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but bombings are a hallmark of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency that has been struggling for years to goad Shi’ite militias back toward civil war.

A key Shi’ite lawmaker said the bombings probably sought to galvanize Al Qaeda following a prison break last Friday in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

Scores of inmates escaped — including as many as 47 convicted Al Qaeda militants — in a massive security lapse that the government acknowledged had help from inside. Many of the fugitives remain at large.

‘‘Al Qaeda leaders have no intention of leaving this country or letting Iraqis live in peace,’’ said Hakim al-Zamili, a Shi’ite member of Parliament’s security committee. ‘‘The jailbreak in Tikrit has boosted Al Qaeda’s morale in Iraq and thus we should expect more attacks in the near future.’’

‘‘The situation in Iraq is still unstable,’’ Zamili added. ‘‘And repetition of such attacks shows that our security forces are still unqualified to deal with the terrorists.’’

Spokesmen for the government and Baghdad’s military command could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sunday’s deadliest attack struck the town of Taji, a former Al Qaeda stronghold just north of Baghdad. Police said three explosive-rigged cars in a Shi’ite neighborhood went off within minutes of each other, killing eight and wounding 28 in back-to-back blasts that began around 7:15 a.m.

At almost the same time, in Baghdad, police said a suicide bomber set off his explosives-packed car in the northwest Shi’ite neighborhood of Shula. One person was killed and seven wounded. Police could not immediately identify the target.

Another suicide bomber drove a minibus into a security checkpoint in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. Three police officers were killed and five wounded.

A military patrol hit a roadside bomb in Tarmiyah, about an hour north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding six passersby, officials said.

And car bombs exploded outside Kirkuk, the northeastern towns of Balad Ruz and Khan Bani Saad in Diyala Province, and in the town of Madain outside Baghdad. In all, seven people were killed.

Also in Baghdad, a double car bomb struck the mostly Shi’ite neighborhood of Karradah. The first explosion came as a security patrol passed, killing a police officer and a bystander, and wounding eight other people.

As emergency responders rushed to the scene, the second car blew up, killing three passersby and injuring 12, according to officials.

Earlier this summer, the Iraqi wing of Al Qaeda, also called the Islamic State of Iraq, launched a campaign dubbed ‘‘Breaking the Walls,’’ which aimed at retaking strongholds from which it was driven by the American military after sectarian fighting peaked in 2007.

The insurgent group has for years had an uneasy relationship with the global terror network’s leadership.

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