Several bombs exploded in mainly Shiite Baghdad districts on Sunday after Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death by a Baghdad court on charges of running death squads. Following the announcement of the verdict, car bombs tore through six districts around Baghdad, hitting a restaurant and a cafe. Another bomb went off in a busy commercial area, killing more than 50 people, following bombs in other cities nationwide.
“These attacks clearly show once again that political tensions that have been under way for some time create a fertile ground for terrorist groups,” a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. “We hope that these saddening events will lead the Iraqi leaders to put more effort into establishing peace and reconciliation in the country without delay.”
Hashemi, a fierce critic of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, fled Iraq after the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in December, a move that risked collapsing a fragile power-sharing agreement among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
The Sunni politician has been in Turkey since April and says he has no intention of returning to Iraq to appeal the verdict against him because he does not believe he will receive a fair trial.
Hours before the sentence was announced, a wave of bombings and shootings had already killed at least 58 people and a car bomb had exploded outside a French consular office in Nassiriya in southern Iraq.