European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned the wave of deadly attacks that left more than 70 people dead and scores injured across Iraq a day earlier, and urged all concerned parties to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve their differences.
"The High Representative strongly condemns the latest wave of ruthless attacks in a number of Iraqi provinces. Dozens of people have died and many more have been injured," said a statement issued by Ashton's office.
Noting that such attacks can only serve in exacerbating the already fragile political situation in Iraq, she deplored the deaths and destruction caused by these acts of terrorism and expressed her deepest condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in Wednesday's attacks.
At least 72 people were killed in a series of more than 20 bomb attacks targeting mainly Shiite pilgrims and police in the capital Baghdad as well as the southern cities of Hilla and Balad and the northern city of Kirkuk.
More than 40 people were killed in the Baghdad attacks alone, which targeted Shiite pilgrims gathered for attending a religious ceremony held to mark the death anniversary of Shiite imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
Hours later, U.N. top envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, said he was "deeply shocked and utterly dismayed" by the wave of deadly attacks, and urged the country's government to address the root causes behind the continued violence. He also extended his condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks and wished speedy recovery of the injured.
Although violence has dropped across Iraq in recent years, the war-ravaged country still witnesses such attacks on a regular basis. Such incidents increased drastically after U.S. combat forces left the country. It is estimated that more than 200 people have died in militant attacks across Iraq since the U.S. troop pullout.
The last of U.S. combat troops left Iraq by the end of December, ending a decade-long American military presence since the 2001 invasion of the Middle East nation. The troop pullout was in line with a bilateral security agreement that required the withdrawal of all American forces from the country by the end of 2011.
by RTT Staff Writer
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