Baghdad: Al Qaeda militant group in Iraq on Saturday claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks mainly targeted Shiite pilgrims and security forces that killed and wounded hundreds of people on Wednesday.
The self-styled Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), al Qaeda front in the country, said in a statement posted on an Islamic website that a series of coordinated attacks were launched on what the statement named "blessed Wednesday invasion."
"The new wave on Wednesday came in conjunction and coordination and high discipline by the soldiers of the ISI as we ever know them," the statement said.
The attacks targeted security headquarters, military patrols, Shiite militia, government military and administrative centers, along with the "traitors of the Sunnis" who cooperate with the Shiite-dominated government, the statement said, adding that more details about the attacks will be published later.
On Wednesday, a wave of coordinated bombings and gunfire struck the Iraqi cities, mainly targeted Shiite pilgrims and security forces ahead of a major Shiite ritual, killing at least 78 people and wounding some 300.
Iraqi officials frequently blamed Qaeda militant group and some insurgent groups for carrying out attacks against Shiite pilgrims who perform communal rituals to provoke sectarian strife in the violence-shattered country.
Wednesday`s attacks came ahead of a Shiite religious ritual on Friday as tens of thousands of pilgrims marched to Baghdad to commemorate the death of Imam Mosa al-Kadhum, the seventh of the 12 most revered Shiites`` Imams at his shrine in Kadhmiyah district.
Qaeda statement also said that the Wednesday wave of violence is part of a series of attacks, including the suicide bombing on June 4, when a suicide car bomber struck the Shiite endowment office in central Baghdad, killing 20 people and wounding 125 others.
On June 11, al Qaeda claimed in a statement the attack on the Shiite endowment office and said that it was the first message for the Shiite community and a warning that what is coming in the future will be more devastating.
Both attacks in the month by the militant group came amid high- running tensions between the Shiite and Sunni communities after the Shiite office sought to take over management of many Sunni mosques and properties across the country.
The Shiite and Sunni endowment offices are independent bodies affiliated to the government which are responsible for running the Shiite and Sunni mosques and their religious properties respectively.
The authenticity of both al Qaeda statements could not be verified.
Such deadly attacks apparently are seen as an attempt by the insurgent groups to stir up sectarian strife among Iraqis to push the country to the brink of civil war, amid persistent political divisions that have already paralyzed the country`s government.