Baghdad Green Zone bombings kill 34

2014-02-05 21:59
Iraqi fire-workers extinguish a blaze at the scene of a car bomb explosion in the business district of Sinak in central Baghdad. (Khalil al-Murshidi, AFP)

Iraqi fire-workers extinguish a blaze at the scene of a car bomb explosion in the business district of Sinak in central Baghdad. (Khalil al-Murshidi, AFP)

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Baghdad - A spate of bombings in Baghdad killed at least 34 people on Wednesday, including several blasts near the heavily-fortified Green Zone and a busy square in the centre of the capital, Iraqi security sources say.

The blasts came a day after two rockets were fired into the Green Zone, home to the prime minister's office and Western embassies, and are likely to heighten concerns about Iraq's ability to protect strategic sites as security deteriorates.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, but Sunni Islamist militants have been regaining ground in Iraq, particularly in the western province of Anbar, where they overran two cities on 1 January.

On Wednesday, security sources said two parked car bombs went off opposite the ministry of foreign affairs, killing 11.

The interior ministry gave a different version, blaming the "cowardly" attack on a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.

Falluja siege

"At around nine o'clock this morning, a terrorist suicide bomber riding a motorcycle tried to enter the security area of the ministry", it said in a statement. "A group of guards stopped him at a checkpoint and denied him access so he blew himself and the bike up."

In a separate incident, a suicide bomber driving a car detonated himself along with the vehicle outside a restaurant close to a checkpoint one street away from the Green Zone, killing eight people, the security sources said.

An explosion near Khullani Square in central Baghdad left four more people dead, and later in the day, three car bombs blew up in quick succession in the southeastern Jisr Diyala district, killing a further 11.

"Iraqi political leaders should show national unity in dealing with such threats and unite against terrorism", said the UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, in a statement.

The city of Falluja is currently being surrounded and shelled by the Iraqi army in preparation for a possible ground assault to drive out anti-government fighters, which include members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The violence has halted exports of crude oil from Iraq to Jordan, which used to be trucked across the border through Anbar.

In a short speech broadcast on state television on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said local authorities and tribal leaders in Anbar would unveil a joint initiative to end the standoff in the coming days, without elaborating.

"The goal of this initiative is to unify positions to end the battle against al-Qaeda", said Maliki, who is also commander in chief of the armed forces. "The battle is on the threshold of conclusion."

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  isil  |  nuri al-maliki  |  iraq

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