The violence also comes during a protracted political standoff that has raised sectarian tensions in a country racked by brutal communal bloodshed from 2006 to 2008. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi condemned the violence and appealed for calm, as did United Nations envoy Martin Kobler.
The first attack occurred at 11:00 am (local time) outside the Shiite endowment in Baab al-Muadham, in central Baghdad, and left at least 25 people dead and more than 65 injured, medical officials said. The bombing completely destroyed the endowment headquarters, its deputy chief, Sami al-Massudi, said.
"We do not accuse anyone, but we call on the Iraqi people and especially on the sons of our religion to bury the strife because there is a plan to launch a civil war between the people, and between the Iraqi sects," Massudi said. He said the Shiite endowment had received threats in recent days because of a dispute over the Al-Askari shrine, a Shiite mausoleum in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra. The iconic gold-domed shrine was hit by a brutal Al-Qaeda suicide attack in February 2006 that ignited Iraq's bloody confessional violence.
Massudi and his aides had produced documents that attributed the management of the shrine to the Shiite religious endowment, sparking tensions with its Sunni counterpart. "The issue of the Al-Askari shrine is a legal and constitutional issue, and it is our right, because it is a Shiite shrine," Massudi said. The attack also fell on a significant day for Shiite Muslims -- the birthday of Imam Ali, a cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, who is a revered figure in Shiite Islam.