[Note: Casualties have been updated since Al Jazeera released this video report.]
A string of attacks in several parts of Iraq killed 55 and injured almost 300 on Monday. The upsurge of violence came as Iraqis prepare to go to polls for their first election since the withdrawal of US troops.
Officials said bombings hit 12 different areas of Iraq, leaving 55 people dead and making Monday the country's deadliest day since last month's "deadliest day," March 19th. CBC News reported:
The assault bore the hallmarks of a resurgent al-Qaeda in Iraq and appeared aimed at sowing fear days before the first elections since U.S. troops withdrew. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but coordinated attacks are a favourite tactic of al-Qaeda's Iraq branch.
Iraqi officials believe the insurgent group is growing stronger and increasingly co-ordinating with allies fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border cooperation with a Syrian group, the Nusra Front, has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.
The intensifying violence, some of it related to the provincial elections scheduled for Saturday, is worrying for Iraqi officials and Baghdad-based diplomats alike. At least 14 candidates have been killed in recent weeks, including one slain in an apparent ambush Sunday.
Most of Monday’s deadly attacks were car bombings, including two blasts at Baghdad airport.
"Two vehicles managed to reach the entrance of Baghdad airport and were left parked there. While we were doing routine searches, the two cars exploded seconds apart. Two passengers traveling to the airport were killed," a police source said, cited Reuters.
Witnesses blamed authorities for being unable to provide adequate security: “I blame those who call themselves politicians in government [and] the security forces… for this bad security situation. They are doing nothing to help the people, and are only looking out for their benefits,” Qassim Saad, a teacher in Baghdad and witness to one of the blasts told AP.
The legacy of the US-led invasion of Iraq appears to be growing instability and conflict among ethnic and religious groups. A reported 270 Iraqis were killed in insurgent attacks in March alone.
Farah Ali, a student ten years ago, later graduated and became a professor in the English department at Baghdad's College of Arts between 2007 and 2008. With BA and MA degrees in English, she has worked as a translator at Baghdad University's department of cultural affairs, and at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting since then. In an interview with Al Jazeera, she speaks of Iraq after the initial invasion in 2003:
''We are a free democratic country now,' people were telling each other.
This didn't last long. What seemed to be relatively good started to break down day by day. During the years of 2006 and 2007, when I was pursuing my masters degree, things become really bad when all the sectarian violence really took hold.
And now, ten years after the invasion, things seem really bad. We have multiple dictators instead of one, and the political, social, and cultural situation looks even ten times worse than before.
It is not that Saddam was better than the current government, but the government now is too bad compared with Saddam's regime."
On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the day was marked with a wave of deadly blasts killing 65 people.
On Sunday, George W. Bush said that he has no regrets with his presidency, 10 years after the invasion of Iraq, declaring that he is "comfortable" with his legacy.
In a very rare interview, the former president, who has largely shied away from the public eye since leaving office, said that he was "confident the decisions were made the right way", as he reiterated his support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Speaking ahead of the opening of his library next week, Bush told the Dallas Morning News that he reflected on the "realities of the situation 10 years ago" -- that the invasion of Iraq had cross-party support.
"It's easy to forget what life was like when the decision was made," he said.
I'd call this "selective memory," or "comfortably dumb."