Qaeda announces 100-attack Iraq campaign

BAGHDAD, Aug 20, 2011 (AFP) - Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq said it has launched a campaign of 100 attacks across the country since the middle of August, in a statement seen Saturday by AFP.

The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said the campaign began on August 15, Iraq's deadliest day in more than a year, and would exact revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US special forces raid in Pakistan in May, and other senior leaders.

The group did not, however, explicitly claim any of the August 15 violence.

"We have started this stage with an invasion called 'Revenge for Sheikh Osama bin Laden and senior leaders'," said the statement, posted on the Honein jihadist website.

"The campaign started in the middle of the fasting month and, if God wills, it will end after 100 attacks," it said, referring to the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which runs through August.

"They will include raids, martyrdom operations (suicide attacks), roadside bombs, silenced weapons and snipers, in all cities, rural areas and provinces."

On August 15, the day the campaign apparently began, a series of attacks in 18 cities across Iraq left 74 people dead and more than 300 wounded, the deadliest day of violence in the country since May 2010.

The statement did not claim any of the day's attacks, which included suicide bombs, roadside blasts, and shootings.

Separately, leaflets were distributed overnight in south and west Baghdad calling for residents to join ISI and fight US forces, an interior ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

US and Iraqi security officials say that while ISI is markedly weaker than during the height of Iraq's sectarian war in 2006 and 2007, it is still capable of carrying out spectacular coordinated attacks.

A total of 259 people were killed in violence in Iraq in July, according to official figures, the second-highest figure in 2011.

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