BAGHDAD - Outraged Iraqi lawmakers pressed for answers about the government's ability to protect the capital yesterday as a minister announced the arrests of 13 suspects in last week's deadly bombings.
Parliament members shouted down security officials as they tried to defend their forces.
"There are 13 coffins waiting for criminals implicated in Tuesday's attacks, and those criminals will be tried and convicted," Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told lawmakers.
An official at his office later said the 13 suspects are accused of being al-Qaeda-linked insurgents who helped mastermind the bombings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to news media.
Security officials also said they did not have enough time or specific information to act on a tip from the U.S. military hours before the bombings that an attack was imminent.
The grilling in parliament was the third session since Tuesday's attacks that put government officials and security brass on the hot seat. It also suggested that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may need much bolder action to repair the government's image heading toward March elections.
So far, he has shaken up the Baghdad security command and some officers have been placed in custody for possible negligence after bombings that left at least 127 people dead and more than 500 wounded.
But many lawmakers - mostly political foes - have refused to let the government off the hook.
For them it was prime-time political theater with long portions broadcast on state television. Some jabbed their fingers toward security chiefs and demanded more details about what went wrong.
"We need you to tell us the truth about when the Iraqi forces will be fully capable of protecting the country," said Maha al-Douri, a Shiite lawmaker.
The bombings were the third such attack since August against government buildings, raising serious questions about the abilities of Iraqi forces ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops at the end of August 2010.
The former head of the Baghdad security command, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, took the brunt of the backlash yesterday. He was demoted to No. 2 after the blasts.
On the morning of the attacks, he said, Baghdad's security command received intelligence from the U.S. military that insurgents would soon carry out three attacks, including one in or near the protected Green Zone, home to the prime minister's office, parliament, and the U.S. Embassy.
He said the tip indicated there would be two car-bomb attacks in the morning and another later in the day. Three major explosions shook Baghdad about five hours after the Americans notified the Iraqis.
Qanbar said there was not enough time to chase leads or enough detail in the U.S. intelligence to reassign units.