Thursday 21 September 2017

Dozens killed in Iraq violence

Security forces and citizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Irbil. (AP)
Security forces and citizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Irbil. (AP)

Suicide bombings tore through a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad and the relatively safe Kurdish area in the north as a wave of attacks killed at least 46 people across Iraq, officials said.

A surge in sectarian violence in recent months has heightened fears that Iraq is becoming a new battlefield, nearly two years after US forces withdrew.

Tensions have surged amid Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment from the Shiite-led government. More than 4,500 people have been killed since April.

The deadliest assault occurred when an attacker blew himself up inside a Shiite mosque during a funeral in a former insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad, prompting city administrators to criticise Iraqi security forces for failing to protect the people.

At least 25 people were killed and 40 wounded in Musayyib, about 40 miles (60kms) south of Baghdad, according to Mohammed al-Khafaji, who heads the town's security committee. He announced a three-day mourning period in the town.

Musayyib Mayor Qassim Raheem said the bomber was linked to al-Qaida in Iraq.

In northern Iraq, twin suicide car bombs killed at least six Kurdish troops and wounded 30 others in a rare attack in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's largely peaceful self-ruled northern Kurdish region.

The first blast targeted a checkpoint leading to a complex housing the Interior Ministry and other security agencies. As rescue crews and bystanders gathered at the scene, another bomber driving an ambulance attacked the area.

Gunmen then tried to storm the area, prompting a gunfight with security forces that left at least three attackers dead.

The attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaida in Iraq, which typically carries out complex attacks and suicide bombings, but the extremist group is not known to have a large presence in the Kurdish region.

In other violence, a car bomb ripped through a vegetable market in the northeastern Baghdad suburb of Hussainya, killing five civilians and wounding 14.

Another bomb exploded near a Sunni mosque as worshippers were leaving services on the outskirts of Baqouba, a city north of Baghdad. At least five people were killed and 17 wounded.

Gunmen also opened fire on a Baqouba checkpoint manned by Sunni militiamen, killing one and wounding three. And drive-by shooters armed with pistols fitted with silencers and killed an employee at the Electricity Ministry in Baghdad's southern Dora district.

Press Association

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