Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Baghdad bombers kill 57 in bloody day

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A dozen bomb attacks in Baghdad killed 57 people yesterday – the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein – and showed that al-Qaida in Iraq is capable of carrying out multiple bombings in the capital.

Despite hundreds of checkpoints, vehicles packed with explosives were still able to penetrate Shia areas.

Three bombs exploded in the Shia working-class bastion of Sadr City, killing 10 people.

Another blew up at the entrance to the Green Zone, sending a column of dark smoke into the sky.

Other targets were typical of those selected by al-Qaida in the past.

They included a restaurant, where four people died, and a place where day labourers gather to seek work.

The British military mission in Iraq ended in April 2009, but the country continues to be plagued by bombings and instability.

The war, which started on March 20, 2003, lasted over six years, claimed the lives of 179 UK personnel, more than 100,000 Iraqis, and and cost more than £9bn.

Controversy continues to dog British involvement in the war, with ongoing questions about the legality of the invasion and the conduct of British troops.

Earlier this week a BBC Panorama investigation suggested that US and UK security services relied on several pieces of questionable information, while dismissing others that were contradictory.

Vital intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq 10 years ago was based on "fabrication" and "wishful thinking", the documentary claimed.

A YouGov poll revealed last week that more than half (53%) of the public thinks the decision to invade was wrong.

Despite this, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that his decision to go to war was right.

He told the BBC that he regretted how difficult Iraq had been and the loss of life.

But he said that he did not regret the decision to oust Saddam.

"I certainly think that if Saddam had still been in power, it's true there would have been, probably, an uprising amongst his people," he said.

"But I think it would look a lot more like Syria and probably a lot worse than Syria."

He added: "Just ask yourself the question: 'What would be happening now in Iraq if he had been left in power?'"

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