A raid on the Justice Ministry involving a suicide blast and a fierce firefight cost over 20 people their lives in Baghdad today. Three times as many were wounded. The attack is the latest in a sustained effort to undermine the democratically-elected but Shiite-led government.
The attack began when three car bombs detonated on the street outside. Armed fighters infiltrated a government building being used by Justice Ministry employees, and a suicide bomber is believed to have detonated inside of the building. Fighting lasted for around an hour, but ended with police officers raiding the building, killing the gunmen, and evacuating hundreds of people. Over 1,000 people were in the building at the time of the attack.
Seven police officers were killed in the attack. The blasts occurred less than a mile away from other Iraqi government buildings and several foreign embassies.
The Ministry of Justice is a federal government department that manages the execution of justice throughout Iraq. It manages over 100 courthouses and holds nearly 40,000 prisoners. An attack in 2009 damaged the Ministry of Justice building and killed just over 140 people. Justice Ministry employees have since worked out of a different building while the Ministry of Justice is repaired. That attack, too, used car bombs.
Today’s attack was launched by the Islamic State of Iraq, an arm of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq formed in 2003 as a response to the American-led invasion and subsequent occupation. The group has attacked coalition forces and Iraqi security forces alike. The Islamic State of Iraq formed in 2006 and aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni regions of Iraq, and the group has taken credit for attacks killing hundreds of civilians. Both organizations claim that the government does not represent the country’s majority Sunni population, but they lacks the support of the Iraqi people.
Baghdad has suffered from frequent attacks in the decade since 2003 invasion, and while the number of attacks has declined over the years, today’s attack comes well over a year after US forces withdrew from Iraq.
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