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Iraq bombings meant to target summit security, militant group says

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
March 21, 2012 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
A militant group with al Qaeda links claim responsibility for a deadly wave of bombings across Iraq on Tuesday March 20.
A militant group with al Qaeda links claim responsibility for a deadly wave of bombings across Iraq on Tuesday March 20.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Islamic State of Iraq is an al Qaeda front group
  • The group says it was targeting security plans for the Arab League summit
  • More violence flares across Baghdad Wednesday
  • At least 45 are dead after the wave of bombs on the 9th anniversary of the invasion

Baghdad (CNN) -- A militant group with links to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a deadly wave of bombings across Iraq, strikes designed to undermine government security plans for the upcoming Arab League summit.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq, made the claim in a statement posted on an al Qaeda website. The explosions killed 45 people and wounded hundreds Tuesday.

Occurring on the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the attacks were "coordinated" and launched by "Sunni lions" in Baghdad and other provinces "simultaneously," the online statement said. Sunni lions is an adulatory reference to militants.

The bombings were meant to target the security plan "of the government of fools inside the Green Zone, in preparation of the meeting of Arab tyrants in Baghdad," the statement said. The country is hosting the next Arab League summit March 29.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is a Sunni militant group in a majority Shiite country. The Sunni minority had a great deal of power during the reign of longtime dictator Saddam Hussein but lost its clout after he was toppled.

Many Sunnis have felt disenfranchised in Iraq in the post-Hussein era and some have embraced the insurgency. Sectarian conflict raged between Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis during the Iraq war.

While the insurgency's support and potency has eroded in Iraq, authorities believe the bombings were meant to send a message that the militant group is still able to carry out such attacks.

Police in Baghdad reported more violence Wednesday

A mother and her three children were slain in Zafaraniya, a Sunni-Shiite neighborhood in the city's southeast. Gunmen shot dead a Ministry of Trade employee in the northwest.

Nine people were wounded, six in a car bombing in central Baghdad and nine by a roadside bomb in the southeast.

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