Iraq: 62 killed in bomb attacks

Workers clear debris while passers'by inspect the damage of a car bomb attack yesterday, which left six dead, in the Sha'ab neighbourhood of Baghdad. Picture: AP
Workers clear debris while passers'by inspect the damage of a car bomb attack yesterday, which left six dead, in the Sha'ab neighbourhood of Baghdad. Picture: AP
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A SERIES of car bombings in Baghdad, an explosion at a market and a suicide assault in a northern city killed at least 62 people across Iraq yesterday, officials said, the latest in a wave of attacks sweeping across the country.

Co-ordinated bombings hit Iraq many times each month, resulting in a rise in bloodshed that has killed more than 5,000 people since April. The local branch of al-Qaeda often takes responsibility for the assaults, although there was no immediate claim for yesterday’s blasts.

Police officers said that the bombs in the capital, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour period, targeted commercial areas and parking lots, killing 42 people.

The deadliest blasts occurred in the southeastern Nahrwan district, where two car bombs exploded simultaneously, killing seven and wounding 15, authorities said, adding that two other explosions hit the northern Sha’ab and southern Abu Dshir neighbourhoods, each killing six people.

Other blasts hit the neighbourhoods of Mashtal, Baladiyat and Ur in eastern Baghdad, the southwestern Bayaa district and the northern Sab al-Bor and Hurriyah districts.

“I was eating my breakfast when a powerful blast shook the building, shattering the window of my apartment and covering the dining table with pieces of glass,” said Suad Ahmed, a woman living in Baladiyat, where a car bomb killed three people.

“I was terrified, I heard women and children shouting next door. I started to cry. I was afraid of death.”

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers as they were sealing off a street leading to a bank where troops were receiving salaries, killing 14 and wounding 30, a police officer said. Also in Mosul, police said gunmen shot dead two off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting.

The former insurgent stronghold of Mosul is located about 225 miles north-west of Baghdad.

In the afternoon, a bomb blast killed four people and wounded 11 at an outdoor market in the Sunni town of Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, authorities said. Such co-ordinated attacks are a favourite tactic of al-Qaeda’s local branch.

Al-Qaeda was forced underground in 2007 and violence eased in the following years, but is now on the rise again, with about 3,000 civilians killed so far this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

Insurgents have exploited growing anger among Iraq’s Sunni minority, which complains it has been marginalised under the Shiite-led government that came to power following the US-led invasion in 2003.

It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government, as well as members of the security forces. All of the car bombings yesterday in Baghdad struck Shiite neighbourhoods.

Seven medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to publicly release the information.

Violence has spiked in Iraq since April, when the pace of killing reached levels unseen since 2008.