Shi'ites under attack in Iraq

2012-12-17 18:42
AP

AP

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kalahari.com

Baghdad - A wave of bombings across Iraq on Monday targeted inhabitants of ethnically disputed areas and Shi'ite pilgrims, killing 19 people and wounding dozens.

The attacks deepen fears that militants are seeking to reignite ethnic and sectarian violence in the country, where tensions remain high over areas contested between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish minority.

The deadliest of Monday's attacks took place in al-Mouafaqiyah, a village inhabited by families from the Shabak ethnic group. Seven people were killed and 11 were wounded in the bombing, according to police officials.

The village lies near the city of Mosul, 360km northwest of Baghdad, and is claimed by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds. The Shabak have their own distinct language and religious beliefs.

Elsewhere in the north, two car bombs went off in a majority Turkomen neighbourhood in the city of Tuz Khormato, killing five people and wounding 26, said Mohammed al-Asi, a spokesperson for Salahuddin provincial council.

Like the area near the other attack, Tuz Khormato, about 210km north of Baghdad, has a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen competing for control of the city.

Tuz Khormato borders the autonomous Kurdish region. Last month, it was the scene of a deadly shoot-out between Kurdish guards and Iraqi police that killed one civilian. The Iraqi military and Kurdish fighters responded by moving additional troops into disputed areas, raising the possibility of further clashes.

Elsewhere Monday, police said a roadside bomb hit a bus carrying Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims near Samarra, killing one Lebanese national plus the Iraqi driver and wounding eight others, including five Lebanese. Also, a car bomb went off on a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims heading to Samarra, killing two, including an Iranian national.

Another car bomb went off in a commercial area in downtown Baghdad in the afternoon, killing three people and wounding ten, police and health officials said.

Medics in a nearby hospital confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

On Sunday, a series of attacks targeting two other cities in disputed northern areas left at least eight dead and dozens wounded.

It was is unclear who is behind the latest violence, though Sunni Arab insurgents frequently use co-ordinated bomb attacks to try to undermine the Shi'ite-led government's authority.

- AP
Read more on:    iraq  |  religion
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