Thursday 12 December 2019

Bombs kill 17 at Iraqi market

A series of bombings in Iraq are an apparent effort by militants to discourage voters from going to the polls
A series of bombings in Iraq are an apparent effort by militants to discourage voters from going to the polls

A pair of back-to-back bombs have ripped through an outdoor market north-east of Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding 42, officials said.

The attack took place in the town of al-Saadiyah, 90 miles north east of Baghdad, police said.

One of the bombs was placed in the middle of the town's main vegetable and meat market, while the second was put near one of the exits - presumably trying to strike people fleeing from the first blast, a tactic widely used by insurgents to inflict as many casualties as possible. Four women and two children were among the dead.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures.

No group immediately claimed the attack, which bore the hallmarks of al Qaida-inspired Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Shiite-led government's efforts to maintain security across the country ahead of parliamentary elections.

The attacks are an apparent effort to discourage Iraqi voters from going to the polls in the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces.

Earlier today, the al Qaida splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed a wave of attacks across Iraq yesterday, including a massive suicide bombing in a Kurdish town north east of Baghdad that killed at least 25 people.

The bomber in Khanaqin, in the turbulent Diyala province, blew himself up among a group of Kurds who were celebrating the appearance on local TV of Iraq's ailing president, Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd.

That explosion wounded 35 people and sent the day's overall death toll across Iraq to at least 46.

Mr Talabani was shown after casting his ballot abroad as part of early and expatriate voting in his first public appearance since 2012. He has been in Germany for medical treatment following a stroke.

Yesterday insurgents mostly targeted polling stations where security forces were casting ballots two days ahead of the vote. The early balloting meant to give troops a chance to vote since most would be on duty on election day, guarding the polls.

More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament, which is widely expected to be won by an alliance led by Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is likely to seek a third four-year term in office.

PA Media

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