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55 killed, 225 hurt in widespread Iraq attacks

Bombs and deadly shootings relentlessly pounded Iraqis on Thursday, killing at least 55 people and wounding more than 225 in a widespread wave of violence the government called a "frantic attempt" by insurgents to prove the country will never be stable.

Cars burned, school desks were bloodied, bandaged victims lay in hospitals, and pools of blood were left with the wounded on floors of bombed businesses after the daylong series of attacks in 12 cities.

The assault demonstrated how vulnerable the country remains two months after the American military left and put the onus for protecting the public solely in the hands of Iraqi forces.

"There was no reason for this bomb. A primary school is here, students came to study, and people came to work," Karim Abbas woefully said in the town of Musayyib, where he saw a car bomb parked near an elementary school kill three people and wound 73. Most of the injured in the town, located about 40 miles south of Baghdad, were schoolchildren.

Other Iraqis, fed up with the continued violence, furiously blamed security forces for letting it happen.

"We want to know: What were the thousands of policemen and soldiers in Baghdad doing today while the terrorists were roaming the city and spreading violence?" said Ahmed al-Tamimi, who was working at an Education Ministry office a block away from a restaurant bombed in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah in northern Baghdad.

He described a hellish scene of human flesh and pools of blood at the restaurant, where another car bomb killed nine people and wounded 19.

No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, but car bombs are a hallmark of al-Qaida. The Iraqi Interior Ministry blamed al-Qaida insurgents for the violence.

"These attacks are part of frantic attempts by the terrorist groups to show that the security situation in Iraq will not ever be stable," the ministry said in a statement.

Fifteen of the day's 26 attacks targeted security forces on patrols, at checkpoints and around government and political offices.

A statement by the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political party, the main opposition bloc to the Shiite-led government, called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to accept full responsibility for protecting the public.

Ongoing negotiations between the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the Iraqi government are addressing, in part, how to supply security forces with enough equipment and training to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations.