Municipality workers clean the area in the aftermath of an explosion in the Karrada commercial district in Baghdad, on February 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ALI AL-SAADI
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Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki defended his government's counterterrorism strategy and vowed to defeat al Qaeda as bombs exploded in Baghdad and another Iraqi city on Tuesday, killing at least 49 people.Maliki said Iraq had begun discussions with U.S. officials to resume training for its counterterrorism forces.Last year was Iraq's bloodiest since sectarian violence began to abate in 2008 . Some fellow Shi'ites also accuse Maliki of amassing power and abusing it.Influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who announced his withdrawal from politics at the weekend, said Iraq was governed by "wolves thirsty for blood and money", alluding to Maliki as a "dictator and tyrant". At least 35 people were killed in seven car bomb explosions inside Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, and the nearby towns of Haswa, Mahaweel and Mussayab.The city of Falluja in Iraq's Sunni-dominated province of Anbar has been under siege by the army since early January, when militants, among them ISIL, overran it after security forces cleared a site where Sunnis were protesting against Maliki.
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