(WASHINGTON) — The White House came under a barrage of criticism by Republicans following a series of coordinated attacks in Baghdad Thursday that left at least 69 people dead and more than 170 wounded.
No group has taken responsibility for the 16 bombings that occurred in literally all areas of the Iraqi capital less than a week after the last American troops pulled out of the country. Most of the neighborhoods hit are predominantly populated by Shiites.
The Obama administration issued a statement following Iraq’s worst terror attacks in months, saying, “We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis, which serve no agenda other than murder and hatred. We offer our condolences to those whose loved ones were lost or wounded. Attempts such as this to derail Iraq’s continued progress will fail.”
But reaction was swift from both the Republican who faced President Obama in the general election three years ago and the Republican who hopes to defeat him in 2012.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said the coordinated attacks were proof that the U.S. is, “paying a very heavy price in Baghdad because of our failure to have a residual force there. I’m deeply disturbed by events there, but not surprised.”
Meanwhile, White House hopeful Mitt Romney also agreed with McCain’s assessment, telling reporters on the campaign trail, “The president’s failure to secure an agreement and maintain 10,000 to 30,000 troops in Iraq has to be one of his signature failures.”
Complicating matters in Iraq is that it’s in the midst of a political turmoil with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with his Sunni opponents claiming they’re being marginalized.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN