Al-Qa'ida breakaway group kill at least 31 in run-up to Iraq poll
Published 26/04/2014 | 02:30
At least three explosions have torn through a campaign rally for a militant Shi'ite group in Iraq's capital ahead of next week's parliamentary election, killing at least 31 people.
The blasts, one of which was the work of a suicide bomber driving a white van, struck as about 10,000 supporters of Asaib Ahl al-Haq gathered at the Industrial Stadium in eastern Baghdad for the rally of the Iranian-backed group. The afternoon event was organised to introduce the organisation's candidates for Wednesday's vote.
An al-Qa'ida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, claimed responsibility for the attack. It said in a statement posted on a militant website that the bombings aimed to avenge what it called the killing of Sunnis and their forced removal from their homes by Shi'ite militias.
The attack provided a stark reminder of the sectarian violence that continues to plague Iraq more than two years after US troops left the country after an eight-year presence.
Last year, the death toll in the country climbed to its highest levels since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting between 2006 and 2008. The United Nations says 8,868 people were killed in 2013, while more than 1,400 people were killed in the first two months of this year alone.