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Iraqis Say Al-Qaeda Suspected After Bombs Kill 127

Aftermath of a bomb blast December 8 outside a criminal court building in west Baghdad's Mansur district
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi officials say Al-Qaeda militants are suspected of involvement in a series of up to five vehicle bomb attacks in the capital, Baghdad, that are reported to have killed at least 127 people and wounded more than 500 others.

The December 8 blasts hit areas near court buildings, a Finance Ministry office, a police checkpoint and near a university.

It was the third major coordinated bombing strike on Iraqi government sites since August.

The bombs have triggered condemnation of government security measures from some Iraqi parliamentarians. Parliament has called on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and security ministers to answer questions at an emergency session on December 10.

The blasts came on the same day that authorities picked March 7 as the date for next year's Iraqi general elections -- two days after Iraqi politicians agreed to a new election law.

Condemnation of the Baghdad blasts was led by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called the violence "horrendous" and "unacceptable," and by the United States, which said the attacks seemed designed to undermine Iraqi political progress.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's office said Biden had telephoned the Iraqi president and prime minister to condemn the bombings and offer U.S. condolences.

compiled from agency reports