BAGHDAD – At least 61 people were killed and 219 wounded in coordinated bombings across Iraq over a three-hour span Wednesday morning.

The bloody attacks, in at least a dozen cities and towns from Basra in the south to Mosul in the north, came a day after the U.S. military announced that the number of U.S. troops has dropped below 50,000 for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The combination of roadside bombs and car bombs largely targeted security forces and appeared to represent a resounding statement by Sunni insurgents that they are still strong enough to topple police stations, set Iraqi army trucks ablaze and kill scores of people nationwide.

The countrywide attacks, also underscored the fear among Iraqis of what the future will bring as U.S. troop levels dwindle and a political stalemate nearly six months after national elections fuels a rise in assassinations and other violence.

The deadliest blast Wednesday ripped through the eastern city of Kut after a man drove a vehicle rigged with explosives into a central police station, killing at least 19 people and wounding at least 90 others, according to statements by police and medical officials.

Earlier, a man drove a vehicle weighed down by explosives into a northern Baghdad police station, toppling parts of the building. The blast reverberated through the neighborhood and the top floors of six homes were ripped a part. Shattered glass and debris littered the ground where at least 15 people, mostly civilians, were killed and 57 wounded.

On Wednesday evening, emergency response teams were still combing the rubble for two missing girls. Relatives of a mother and child and a father and son, killed in the blast, were erecting funeral tents.

“It was like hell,” said Sarmad Abd al-Ghani, a shop owner. “It was like an earthquake. All of this is because the politicians are fighting over seats.”

Iraqi security officials were quick to blame the Sunni extremist group al-Qaida in Iraq for the attacks.

“The terrorist aggressions against different parts of our country today are desperate attempts from al-Qaida to disparage our security forces’ performance after the American drawdown,” Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, the spokesman for Baghdad security forces, said on state television.


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