BAGHDAD – Two female suicide bombers killed at least 75 people Friday outside a Shiite shrine in northern Baghdad, raising the death toll from the past two days in Iraq to more than 160 and igniting fears that the Iraqi capital could again spiral into a cycle of sectarian violence.
The wave of bombings targeting Shiites could incite reprisals from Shiite militias as the United States begins pulling troops out of the country. Suicide bombers in Baghdad and Diyala province killed more than 85 people Thursday, the deadliest single day this year in Iraq.
The rapid series of attacks bore the trademarks of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq, which has long sought to undermine the United States and Iraq’s Shiite-led government. The Sunni insurgency lacks the widespread support it had in 2006 and 2007 but has demonstrated over the past few weeks that it remains capable of inflicting massive bloodshed.
In Washington, Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, said a group of Tunisians had slipped across the Syrian-Iraqi border to carry out some of the bombings. Loosened scrutiny along the border, where the U.S. military had cracked down on smuggling last year, allowed the bombers to cross, the general said.
“There may be others that have come through,” Petraeus told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee.