BAGHDAD – The blasts that struck the Boston Marathon on Monday were shocking not only for their brazenness and the lives they shattered, but also because attacks like this usually happen in far-off, troubled places — not in the middle of a major American city.
As the chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital, Alasdair Conn, put it: "This is what we expect from war."
Many who live in countries such as Iraq and Syria where violence remains troublingly common had mixed reactions to the bombings. While they were sorry to hear about the attacks, some expressed dismay that the assaults they face on a regular basis get less attention.
"Nobody cared about the dozens of victims who fell yesterday in Iraq and Syria," said Hazim Khazim, a teacher who lost a cousin in a bombing in Baghdad on Monday, in a reaction typical of many in the region.
Internet cafe owner Hassan Sabeeh in Baghdad was more understanding.
"The Iraqi people can feel, more than anybody else in the world, the misery of the Boston victims and their families," he said. "We sympathize and feel their suffering."
Authorities in the United States are urgently searching for clues into the bombing in Boston that killed three, including 8-year-old Martin Richard. More than 170 people were wounded.
Here is a look at some other countries that have faced violent attacks of their own in recent days:
Syrian warplanes swooped over the quiet town of Saraqeb in the country's north Saturday, dropping bombs on a residential district. The blasts shattered storefronts, set cars ablaze and sent huge plumes of smoke into the sky. Rubble and twisted metal littered the street after the airstrikes, which left 20 dead. Harrowing images like those have become routine for those watching the Syrian civil war unfold. Activists say an average of 120 people get killed daily in violence and clashes across the country.
"In Syria, it's not Boston every day, but many times per day," posted Jean Pierre Duthion, a French expatriate in Damascus who has Tweeted the war.
A bloody assault across Iraq began around an hour after sunrise Monday in the western city of Fallujah when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed car into a police checkpoint. Over the next several hours, attackers would detonate more than 20 sets of explosives, most of them car bombs. By the time it was all over — shortly before the Boston bombs struck — 55 people were dead and well over 200 were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility, but the highly coordinated attack bore the hallmarks of a resurgent al-Qaida in Iraq and appeared aimed at sowing fear days before the first elections since U.S. troops withdrew.
Ali al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Iraq's prime minister, condemned the Boston attacks and said Iraq "calls on the world to unite and fight terrorism that targets innocents everywhere."
A well-planned, complex assault involving two car bombs and nine attackers — including six suicide bombers — aimed primarily at Somalia's Supreme Court complex on Sunday killed more than 30 people. The attackers ran through the labyrinthine court complex, where they took court employees and civilians hostage while rescuers used ladders to help people escape from second-story rooms. Officials say al-Shabab militants carried out the assault but, because of its complexity and the sophisticated nature of the bombs, Western officials said it may have been aided by al-Qaida.
In a Facebook message Tuesday, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud wrote of the Boston attack: "America will awake today stronger than ever."
In Bahrain, a series of four small explosions occurred in rapid succession late Sunday, including a gas cylinder blast that set a car ablaze in the Gulf nation's financial district. The attacks suggest a rising influence of militant groups in Bahrain's more-than-two-year-old uprising. Majority Shiites seek a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, which also has high strategic value for Washington as the base for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. The blasts came amid a wave of protests seeking to embarrass officials before Sunday's Formula One auto race, the premier international event in the kingdom.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A mortar shell killed four worshippers when it struck a church in the Central African Republic's capital on Sunday. They were among more than 20 people killed over the weekend amid ongoing violence since rebels took the city of Bangui and ousted the mineral-rich country's president. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reported widespread and grave violations since the rebel coalition took Bangui on March 24, including targeted killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, recruitment of children, rapes, disappearances and kidnappings.
Eight members of the same family were killed Monday when a trailer towed by a tractor in which they were riding struck an explosive device in southern Afghanistan. They were among 14 killed across the country on the day the Boston blasts hit. Most roadside bombs planted by the Taliban are meant to target Afghan security forces or coalition troops, but civilians are often the victims. So far, April has been the deadliest month this year for Afghan and foreign civilians and security forces, an ominous sign as the annual fighting season gets underway with improved weather.
Pakistan has been hit by a spate of violence related to the country's upcoming election. On Monday, gunmen on a motorcycle killed supporters of an independent candidate running for election in the South Waziristan tribal region while his convoy was on the way to a campaign stop. A bomb Tuesday hit a convoy of vehicles carrying another candidate, killing three people and wounding seven others. Another bomb attack on a security vehicle killed one soldier and wounded four, intelligence officials said.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, Michelle Faul in Johannesburg, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Rebecca Santana in Islamabad, Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya, and Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad contributed reporting.
Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at http://twitter.com/adamschreck