BAGHDAD -- Iraqi forces will expand their security operation into eastern Baghdad -- including Shi'ite militia strongholds -- the Defense Ministry said yesterday, a day after a barrage of coordinated attacks across those areas killed 64 people and wounded 286.
Rescue crews pulled bodies from the rubble after Thursday night's violence, which police said included explosives planted in apartments, car bombs, and several rocket and mortar attacks on mainly Shi'ite neighborhoods.
The bloodshed capped a violent week that saw hundreds of Iraqis killed, despite a massive security crackdown in the capital that has targeted some of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods.
Authorities reported more violence yesterday, with a mortar attack on an open-air market in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, that killed three people and wounded 12, an Iraqi Army official said.
Gunmen also fatally shot one police officer in each of two towns outside Baghdad, while police said they found the body of a Saddam Hussein-era intelligence officer who had been kidnapped and shot.
Thursday's attacks in Baghdad centered on neighborhoods controlled by Shi'ite militias, some of which Sunni Arabs accuse of running death squads.
Defense Ministry spokesman Muhammad Al-Askari said security forces planned to expand in a matter of days into an area of eastern Baghdad that includes the neighborhoods targeted on Thursday.
The move is part of ``Operation Together Forward," a security crackdown that targets the capital's most violent districts in phases and has seen an extra 12,000 Iraqi and US troops deployed in the capital.
``We have prepared everything, but we are waiting to mobilize the troops and prepare the special military units that will implement the raids," he said.
Sadr City, a stronghold of firebrand Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, also would be included, Askari said.
The area witnessed repeated clashes in the past between US troops and Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, though American forces have rarely ventured into the area recently.
``No neighborhood is off limits," Askari said. ``There's not a single neighborhood that's a red line for us. Any area that has terrorist activity, we will enter -- there will be no stop sign."
He said no special arrangements had been made to deal with a security operation into the neighborhood.
Other areas include Baghdad Jadida, Habibiyah, Waziriyah, and Palestine Street, which has had a surge in violence recently.
The expanded security operation will begin in a week to 10 days, he said, adding that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would decide on the exact date.