The calm couldn't last. Just days after an enforced curfew came to an end in Baghdad, a suspected al Qaeda bomber rammed a truck into a Shiite mosque in Baghdad yesterday, killing 87 people.
Hours earlier 10,000 United States troops had begun an offensive against the Sunni Islamist group north of the capital.
The offensive around the city of Baquba in Diyala province is partly aimed at al Qaeda car bomb networks that cause carnage in Baghdad. It is one of the biggest military operations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But yesterday's attack highlighted the difficulty the Americans face.
One witness said the bomber drove his truck into the Khilani mosque in Baghdad, destroying one wall and wrecking part of the building's interior. The mosque's signature turquoise dome appeared to have suffered little damage.
Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki blamed the attacks on "Saddamists and Takfiris", a term commonly used by Iraqi officials to describe al Qaeda. "It shows [their] determination to ignite sectarian violence," Maliki said in a statement.
Police said 87 people had been killed, including at least nine women, and 224 others were wounded. Rescuers dragged bodies from the mosque while the charred remains of others could be seen in burned out minibuses around a nearby traffic circle.
It was the second worst bombing in Baghdad since US and Iraqi forces launched a crackdown in February in the capital aimed at halting Iraq's spiral into all-out sectarian civil war. A car bomb on April 18 killed 140 near a Baghdad market.
"Iraqis in this country are being killed every day. No one takes care of them," shouted one old man at the scene.
Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier-General Qassim Moussawi said the truck had been loaded with gas canisters and half a ton of explosives. The explosion followed a relatively quiet period in Baghdad after a four-day curfew was imposed last week in the wake of an attack on a revered Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra that was also blamed on al Qaeda.
The US military said 22 militants were killed in the early hours of the offensive against al Qaeda around Baquba. Diyala province is a stronghold of the Sunni Islamist group but it also has significant Shiite and Kurdish populations.
"The end state is to destroy the al Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," Brigadier-General Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general, operations, 25th Infantry Division, said in a statement.
"That is the number one, bottom-line, up-front, in-your-face, task and purpose."
The statement said about 10,000 soldiers, backed by attack helicopters, close air support and armoured fighting vehicles were taking part in Operation Arrowhead Ripper.
It did not say how long the offensive would last. But it coincides with smaller operations launched in recent days against al Qaeda targets around Baghdad.
"It's certainly one of the largest since the end of ground operations in 2003," US military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver said when asked to describe the significance of the operation.
Residents in Baquba, capital of Diyala, said heavy and continual explosions had been echoing around the city since before dawn. Baquba, 65km north of Baghdad, was under total curfew, they added.
The operation comes just days after the US military said it had completed its troop build-up in Iraq to 160,000 soldiers.
South of the capital, gunmen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr battled police linked to a rival Shiite faction for a second day in the city of Nassiriya. Hospital officials said 35 people had been killed over two days.
The fighting underscored frictions between Sadr's political movement and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, which have raised fears of a battle for control of Iraq's more stable Shiite southern regions.
Another day of disaster
A truck bomb killed at least 87 people and wounded 224 near the Shiite Khilani mosque in the central city. The mosque was badly damaged.
One US soldier was killed and three wounded when a roadside bomb hit their patrol south of the city on Monday.
One US soldier was killed and two wounded by a roadside bomb attack near their vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala province.
The US military said it killed 22 suspected militants in the early hours of a major offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq around this city 65km north of Baghdad, in Diyala province. The offensive against the Sunni Islamist militant group involves 10,000 soldiers.
Two days of fighting between gunmen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi police have killed 35 people and wounded 125 in this city 362km southeast of Baghdad.
The Iraqi Army killed 15 suspected insurgents and arrested 65 others during the past 24 hours in different districts of the city.
A woman and a child were killed by a mortar attack in this town 420km north of Baghdad.
Gunmen killed a female student from the University of Mosul, in the city 400km north of Baghdad.
Gunmen attacked a Kurdish Army unit and killed five soldiers and wounded 15 on Monday.
The bodies of 33 people were found shot in different districts of the city on Monday.
Two tribal leaders were killed and their driver wounded by a roadside bomb in this town 40km south of Baghdad.