An outburst of sectarian violence appears to be overwhelming Iraq's police and military forces as U.S. troops hand over greater control of cities across the country to them. On Friday, twin attacks by suicide bombers killed at least 60 people outside Baghdad's most revered Shiite shrine, pushing the death toll in one 24-hour period to nearly 150 and ushering back the darkest moments of the Iraq war. The attacks bear the trademarks of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq.
Iraqis reel: 'Then all these victims came in'
"I blame the national police. They are supposed to protect the entrances of our neighborhood. How could two suicide bombers get in?"
Saddam Rasool, a guard at the shrine
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"I fell down and saw glass fly everywhere. Then someone picked me up and put me in a car. That's all I remember."
Abdul al-Ala, 16, from a hospital bed with his head bandaged; he was shopping for a cell phone near the shrine
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"No one can find this boy's family. We think they are all dead, so I'm staying with him for now. … I just came to visit a friend, and then all these victims came in."
Ahmed Zuheir, 37, as he sat on a bed rocking a crying, bloodied little boy at Khadamiyah Teaching Hospital, where most of the wounded were taken
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"The source of this is well-known. It's al-Qaida. They want to provoke sectarian problems and ruin the security situation."
Ali Faisel, 33
A troubling time line
Thursday: More than 80 people die in two suicide attacks, in Baghdad and in the northeastern province of Diyala.
Friday: At least 60 people die in two bombings outside Baghdad's most revered Shiite Muslim shrine, ominously echoing attacks like the one on a Shiite shrine in Samara in February 2006 that unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodshed.
In April: There have been at least 35 explosions. On April 6, a series of bombings within four hours in Baghdad killed 37 people.
June deadline: Under an agreement signed last year between Iraq and the United States, U.S. troops must leave Iraqi cities by the end of June, and President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw most Americans by late 2010. Both governments, however, have said the pullback might be delayed where violence remains high. Times wires