Baghdad

Bombings by Islamic State of Iraq

The umbrella organization that includes al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the massive hotel bombings that rocked Baghdad Monday. The Islamic State of Iraq says the three hotels—and the 36 people in them who died—were "legitimate targets," and that the bombings are part of a campaign that began in August to cripple the Shia-led government before the national elections on March 7. The group accused the Sheraton, Babylon, and Hamra hotels of colluding with the Iraqi government to house Western journalists who write unduly positive articles about Iraq's security forces. In a new, brazen tactic, insurgents opened fire on checkpoint guards to clear a path for bomb-packed vehicles to get through to the targets. It's another indication that al Qaeda in Iraq is expanding its range of targets for its mass-casualty attacks. The group says it's planning more.