February 3rd, 2008 02:54 EST
Terrorists will not intimidate Iraqi Prime Minister
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says twin suicide bombings that killed 99 people Friday in Baghdad will not sidetrack Iraq's military from its goal of restoring security to the country.
Mr. Maliki said in a written statement Saturday that Iraqi forces will continue to crush terrorists and target their strongholds.
Friday's nearly simultaneous suicide bombings at two pet markets in Baghdad made for the deadliest day in the capital in several months.
Authorities say the blasts were carried out by two mentally disabled women strapped with explosives that were set off by remote control. The U.S military says al-Qaida in Iraq was responsible for the bombings.
Prime Minister Maliki has been in the northern city of Mosul for talks with military and political officials on a planned offensive against al-Qaida fighters in the area.
The talks included the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Iraq's national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie.
Mr. Maliki announced the offensive last week following a blast in Mosul that killed up to 50 people.
The blast occurred in a building the U.S. military said had been used by al-Qaida in Iraq forces to store weapons and explosives. U.S. commanders describe Mosul as the last major urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq forces.
Iraqi troops have been moving toward Mosul for what Mr. Maliki calls a "decisive" operation against the militants. Tens of thousands of coalition soldiers have been participating in operations in Iraq's northern provinces, part of a wider offensive launched last month.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.