Iraqi officials, religious leaders and citizens denounced the string of terrorist attacks that left 67 Iraqis dead and more than 400 wounded on Thursday (February 23rd).
The al-Qaeda front group Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Iraqis woke up Thursday morning to a barrage of 29 terrorist attacks, including 16 car bombs, eight improvised explosive devices, five sticky bombs, and armed attacks by masked gunmen on Iraqi police and army checkpoints, according to Col. Hikmat al-Masary, director of media at the Ministry of Interior.
The strikes were reported in Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit, Kirkuk, and Diyala, according to al-Masary.
"The provinces of our dear country were the target today of a savage, despicable attack by al-Qaeda, which is trying to undermine the democratic experience in Iraq, and throw the country and the people into sectarian, denominational, ethnic infighting," said government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh.
"But we are relying on the culture and endurance of the Iraqi people, as well as their awareness of the scope of the terrorist conspiracy targeting the country," he told mawtani.com.
Al-Dabbagh said the government "has started a comprehensive investigation, and shall strike back without mercy against the al-Qaeda attacks within a few days".
He said the government has drafted a fast-paced security plan for the capital as a precaution against any other attacks that might happen.
On Friday (February 24th), Iraqi forces in Baghdad province raided al-Qaeda hideouts in al-Yousufiya, al-Radhwaniya and al-Taji, and arrested 19 individuals suspected of involvement in Thursday's attacks, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In Ninawa province, Iraqi army forces arrested eight individuals who "confessed to involvement in the attacks", provincial spokesperson Lt. Col. Abdul Rahim al-Atwani said.
Osama al-Nujaify, speaker of parliament, called on the parliamentary defence and security committee to prepare a detailed report on the attacks, pinpointing the flaws in order to discuss them at the next parliamentary session.
Al-Nujaify said that the attacks aimed at "undermining the national reconciliation conference of the blocs' leaders, and kill the chances for Iraq's hosting the Arab summit meeting in Baghdad next month".
He called on "the security services to take responsible measures to curb these terrorist actions".
Ahmad al-Alwany, member of the parliamentary defence and security committee, denounced the attacks and said "they reconfirm the need to review the work of the security and intelligence network in Iraq, and hold the derelict ones to account".
He said parliament "will question the government on the security breaches that have taken place, and no one shall be immune against accountability".
"The terrorists will pick out any chance to inflict harm on our people. Therefore, security must be maintained for the citizens, as well as confronting al-Qaeda plans and those who are behind it, and this is the simplest right of citizens, which must be upheld," al-Alwany said
Sheikh Ayham al-Saadi, deputy head of the Council of Iraqi Scholars, described the attacks as "a savage, despicable action unrelated to any religion".
Al-Saadi called on all Iraqis to "help the security forces by informing on the perpetrators," and described the failure to inform on them as "religiously forbidden, and would amount to partaking in the bloodbath".
"What happened is a serious indication that the terrorist groups are still carrying out painful attacks, and they must be confronted through unity by the components of the Iraqi people and collaboration with the security forces," he said.
Hasnain Ali, 43, a resident of Karrada neighbourhood in Baghdad where one of the attacks had taken place, said, "It was a big tragedy that happened today. This is the language of perfidy and malice that the terrorists are used to."
"We will remain united and will undo their plans that aim at sparking off the sectarian crisis again," he said, calling security forces to inflict losses on the terrorists.
Mohammad Khider, 52, a resident of Abu Dsheer in Baghdad, said, "This is al-Qaeda: wherever it goes, there is destruction. They are trying to take away the liberty to live in peace."
The Iraqi Ministry of Health called on citizens through the local media to donate blood to save the wounded.
In response to the ministry's call, civilian organisations and offices of religious leaders of both Sunnis and Shias started a national drive to donate blood for the victims of the attacks.
Bilal Shallal, head of the civil society organisations network in Iraq, said 54 civil organisations in Iraq were able to collect 21,000 vials of blood during the first hour of the drive in Baghdad, Dhiqar, Basra, Mosul, Falluja, Diyala, and Salah al-Din.
Shallal said the organisations also collected donations in all parts of Iraq and will be distributed to the victims.
He said a number of Iraqi businessmen have pledged to cover the treatment of some of the wounded at their own expense outside Iraq.