Toll rises in spate of Iraq attacks

2013-01-18 14:01
A policeman stands guard at the scene after a car bomb attack outside a mosque in Dujail, 80km north of Baghdad, Iraq. (Karim Kadim, AP)

A policeman stands guard at the scene after a car bomb attack outside a mosque in Dujail, 80km north of Baghdad, Iraq. (Karim Kadim, AP)

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Baghdad - The toll from a spate of attacks across Iraq on Thursday rose to 29 dead and 120 wounded, officials said, amid weeks of anti-government protests and a political crisis engulfing the country.

The attacks marked the third consecutive day of violence that claimed 88 lives overall, including that of a Sunni Iraqi MP killed by a suicide bomber and 33 others who died in twin car bombs in an ethnically mixed northern city.

Iraq is gripped by a long-running political dispute, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki facing protests that are hardening opposition against his rule and calls from many of his erstwhile government partners for his ouster.

No group has claimed responsibility for the spike in unrest, but Sunni militants often launch attacks in a bid to destabilise the government and push Iraq back towards the sectarian violence that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.

The bloodiest of Thursday's blasts took place in Dujail, 60km north of Baghdad, where a car bomb outside a Shi'ite mosque killed 11 people and wounded 72, provincial health chief Raad al-Juburi said.

Suicide attack

A car bomb killed seven people and wounded 18 near a football stadium on the outskirts of the predominantly Shiite city of Hilla, south of the capital, officials said.

Attacks also struck Baghdad, Hawija, Karbala, Tuz Khurmatu and Mosul, leaving 11 people dead and 30 others wounded overall.

The violence came a day after 49 people were killed in attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital - Iraq's bloodiest day since 29 November - including seven who died from twin car bombs in the city of Kirkuk.

On Tuesday, a suicide attacker killed a Sunni Iraqi MP, Ayfan al-Essawi, west of Baghdad. Hundreds of mourners attended Essawi's funeral outside the mostly Sunni town of Fallujah on Wednesday.

Violence down across Iraq from their peak, but attacks remain common.

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