Iraq plans March elections despite deadly bombings

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Iraq plans March elections despite deadly bombings

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Baghdad is still reeling from one of the worst waves of violence to hit the Iraqi capital this year.

A series of coordinated explosions killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 450.

The bombers apparently targeted government buildings and institutions.

A total of five blasts, which also included a suicide bomb on a police patrol, showed the ability of insurgents to strike in the heart of the city.

The violence provoked both public and political denunciations of the country’s security forces.

It highlighted their inability to stop carefully orchestrated attacks, despite an overwhelming presence at checkpoints placed on every major street in the capital.

Some locals linked the upsurge in violence to the protracted political jockeying over the allocation of parliamentary seats ahead of delayed elections.

The bombings came as officials finally agreed to set a date in March for the national poll which is being seen as a major test of the country’s political progress. But many people fear campaigning will trigger more insurgent killings.

Washington’s response to the attacks has been a swift condemnation and to reiterate its plans to end combat operations in Iraq next August, ahead of a full withdrawal by 2012.