Truck bombs detonated on three bridges around Baghdad on Friday, killing 25 and injuring 69 in the latest assault on commercial arteries in defiance of a three-month-old U.S. and Iraqi security offensive.
Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces are patrolling and erecting checkpoints in neighborhoods across Baghdad. Yet, car bombs and suicide-bomb attacks, apparently by Sunni insurgents seeking to stoke sectarian tensions, continue to exact immense casualties, deepening sectarian divisions.
Friday's attacks damaged two of the bridges that connect mostly Shiite east Baghdad to mostly Sunni west Baghdad, and came a month after a truck bombing collapsed the Sarafiya Bridge, dumping cars into the Tigris River and killing 11 people. Days later, a suicide car bomber blew himself up near another bridge, killing 10.
The bombings came as the senior U.S. commander for Northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, said Friday that he has asked for U.S. reinforcement troops to quell rising violence in the troubled eastern province of Diyala. He said the government there was "non-functional" and that the Iraqi security forces are hamstrung by a slow and sometimes sectarian bureaucracy in Baghdad.
"After nearly eight months on the ground, I am concerned about the overall progress of our Iraqi security forces and the governmental processes," said Mixon in a teleconference from Iraq with Pentagon reporters.
Provincial leaders did not execute a budget last year and meet only irregularly, and so "fail to provide those essential services the population needs," Mixon said.
Truck bombs detonate on 3 Baghdad bridges