Iraqi prime minister blames Baghdad bombings on Baathists

Iraqi prime minister blames Baghdad bombings on Baathists Baghdad - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday blamed a recent series of deadly bombings in Baghdad on cells of the Baath Party. Over the course of three days last week, eight car bombs struck Shiite districts of Baghdad, killing at least 51 people. The Baath Party, led by late dictator Saddam Hussein, was removed from power in Iraq in 2003 by the US-led invasion.

"Baath Party cells are behind these operations," al-Maliki told Baghdad's al-Iraqia television on Monday. "Security services arrested the culprits and they confessed that Baath Party cells were behind the operations."

"Those who believe in the ideas of the Baath Party do so even at the expense of innocent lives and the homeland," al-Maliki said.

"The Iraqi people, burned by the fire of the Baath Party ... cannot believe that these gangs... who are responsible for car bombings, for dragging the country into an 8-year war with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the invasion and occupation of Kuwait are partners in the political process," the prime minister added.

Al-Maliki's government has recently pushed a "national reconciliation" process seeking to bring ex-Baathists into the political mainstream. But the prime minister and his political allies have repeatedly stressed that the initiative will not include "those responsible for crimes against the Iraqi people."

On Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamist insurgents including al-Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five US soldiers and at least 12 Iraqis on Friday. The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on the headquarters of the local "Awakening Council," Sunni militiamen enlisted to enforce security in their areas. (dpa)