Five Iraqis killed and 14 hurt in attacks

FIVE Iraqis have been killed and 14 others injured in bombings and shootings in the capital, Baghdad, and a western town yesterday in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the country for some time.

The killings included an attack near cafs and ice-cream shops busy with people, more of whom have taken to the streets recently as the country has become progressively safer.

A roadside bomb hit a joint Iraqi police-army patrol as it parked near a drinking water plant in the town of al-Baghdadi. The blast killed a soldier and a policeman and wounded another soldier.

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Al-Baghdadi town is in Anbar province, which was once a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency.

Also yesterday, gunmen in a speeding car shot and killed a Shiite cleric as he left an electricity ministry office in the New Baghdad district of the capital. The motive for the shooting was not immediately known. A doctor at a nearby hospital confirmed the death.

Hours earlier, at around midnight, a bomb exploded in Baghdad's western Jamiaa neighbourhood near cafs and ice-cream shops, killing two civilians and wounding 13 others.

Iraq has seen a drop in violence since 2008 after its peak of sectarian attacks, but sporadic attacks still occur around the country.

With the ebb in violence, Iraqis have started going out in the evenings more, especially during the current holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.

However, the past week has seen an upsurge in violent attacks in the region.

Last Thursday two bombs exploded in succession near the house of a police officer, killing three people and wounding 23 others, including three policemen, in central Ramadi, which is a former insurgent stronghold around 70 miles west of Baghdad.

In Baghdad itself a roadside bomb wounded three people last Thursday night, in the Amil district of the capital city, while a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol wounded two soldiers, also last Thursday, in Baghdad's southern Doura district.

Two bombs also exploded in succession near an off-licence store and wounded four people in the Karrada district of central Baghdad.