A string of violence rocked Iraq Monday, as insurgents carried out bombings in more than a dozen cities, killing 60 security forces and civilians, the Associated Press reports.
The attacks are the deadliest so far this year and come after Iraqi officials announced they would consider allowing some U.S. forces to stay in the country past the December 31 withdrawal deadline.
The attacks appeared to be a coordinated effort, and all of the bombings took place Monday morning. Kut, a town southeast of Baghdad, was the hardest hit area. Insurgents set of two bombs in the Kut market – one enclosed in a freezer, the other in a parked car – killing 35 people and injuring 64 others. Many residents of the areas where the attacks occurred said they were furious at the Iraqi government's inability to deal with security concerns.
As he swept up human remains from the floor of his Kut shop, Ali Jumaa Ziad told the AP: "Where is the government with all these explosions across the country? Where is al-Maliki? Why doesn't he come to see?"
The attacks will likely give Iraqi officials in favor of a continued U.S. presence another reason to make their case. But Theodore Karasik, an expert at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told the AP that continued U.S. operations in the region could actually embolden Iraq's primary insurgent group, al-Qaida in Iraq.
"It seems that al-Qaida in Iraq is playing a propaganda game at the same time it's trying to show that it can still carry out deadly violence," Karasik said. "If the U.S. extends its military presence, al-Qaida in Iraq can use it as a tool by saying, `Look, the Americans have reversed their decision to leave and are staying on as occupiers.' They could use this as a justification for more attacks."