Attacks Across Iraq Kill 46 Ahead of Arab Summit

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A string of bombing attacks in eight cities across Iraq killed at least 46 people and left more than 200 wounded, Tuesday.

One of the worst attacks hit the Shiite holy city of Karbala, where two car bombs exploded in a crowed shopping area.

The attacks were thought to be in protest of the annual Arab League meeting taking place next week in Baghdad.

"The intention of these attacks is to destabilize the security situation in Karbala and other Iraqi cities and to shake the people's confidence on the government," local provincial council member Hussein Shadhan al-Aboudi said.

"It seems that the terrorists want to abort the upcoming Arab Summit in Baghdad," he added. "The message is directed to the Arab leaders that Iraq is not safe enough to be visited."

Last week, the Iraqi government said it would deploy an unprecedented number of security forces to protect the capital for the summit. An estimated 26,000 police and soldiers, including more than 4,000 troops from Iraq's north and south, are expected to be deployed in Baghdad.

Tuesday, he government also announced a weeklong federal holiday in Baghdad, from March 25-31, when government offices will be shut down.

Officials will impose a curfew in parts of Baghdad on March 29, when the Arab heads of state arrive. They will also encourage people to stay home.

More violence is expected over the next few weeks.

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