Suicide bombers infiltrated a line of police recruits and a crowd of Shiite pilgrims Thursday as insurgents killed 125 civilians and five U.S. soldiers, escalating their fight as political groups worked to forge a coalition government.
The two-day toll from insurgent attacks rose to 183, reflecting a dramatic upsurge in bloodshed following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections. Some leading Sunni politicians accuse the Shiite-led government of condoning fraud in the voting.
Iraq's prime minister denounced the violence as an attempt to derail the political process at a time when progress was being made toward including the Sunnis in a new, broad-based government and thereby weakening the Sunni-led insurgency.
But Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed the violence on Sunni Arab groups that fared poorly in the elections. SCIRI warned that Shiite patience was wearing thin, and it accused the U.S.-led coalition forces of restraining the Iraqi army and its police forces.
Thursday's death toll — the largest single-day total since Sept. 29, when 162 died, and one of the bloodiest days in the three-year insurgency — included five American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Baghdad area, the U.S. military said.
Earlier, Iraqi police Capt. Rahim Slaho said the U.S. convoy was heading for the Shiite holy city of Karbala when it was attacked 15 miles south of the city, and five soldiers were killed.
In other developments:The largest oil refinery in Iraq is closed again. An Iraqi official says the refinery located about 155 miles north of Baghdad had to be closed after insurgents ambushed a tanker truck carrying gas from the facility yesterday. The official also tells Dow Jones Newswires that pumping to the refinery has stopped because its reserves are full. Yesterday's ambush saw four tankers destroyed, another 15 damaged and three Iraqi army vehicles blown up.Final results from the elections were expected to be released within two weeks, and were expected to show the United Iraqi Alliance with about 130 of parliament's 275 seats. That figure is well short of the 184 needed to form a government. In other violence Thursday, a suicide car bomb killed three Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Thamir al-Gharawi said, and gunmen killed three people in separate incidents, police said. In Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, the funerals took place of some of the 32 killed attending another funeral on Wednesday. The funeral bombing bore hallmarks of Islamic extremist groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq.There also were two car bombings in Baghdad and a militant ambush on a convoy of 60 oil tankers heading from Iraq's biggest refinery to the capital.The year 2005 saw 2,880 terrorist attacks target Iraqi security forces and civilians, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. Some 1,225 policemen and 475 soldiers were killed, along with 4,021 civilians and 1,709 insurgents, it said. Overall, 7,430 Iraqis were killed, according to the figures. It was impossible to confirm the accuracy of the numbers because many slayings in Iraq go unreported and there are no other official figures with which to compare them. The United States military does not track civilian deaths.
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