Attacks including car bombs kill 22 in Iraq
BAGHDAD—Attacks including a car bomb near a cafe and another at a police station killed 22 people in Iraq on Monday, as the country struggles to curb rampant violence.
Unrest has reached a level this year not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings, and the surge in violence has raised fears the country is falling back into all-out conflict.
In the deadliest attack on Monday, a car bomb exploded near a cafe in Buhruz, a Sunni-majority town in the religiously and ethnically mixed Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounded 22, police and a doctor said.
Militants have attacked dozens of cafes in Iraq in recent months and have repeatedly targeted other crowded areas, such as markets and mosques, despite the near-ubiquitous presence of security forces.
Another car bomb exploded near a police station in the Tarmiyah area north of Baghdad, killing three police and wounding nine others.
In the Suwaib area of the capital itself, a roadside bomb killed two Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda fighters and wounded at least two others, and gunmen armed with silenced weapons killed a shop owner in the Bayaa area.
South of Baghdad, another roadside bomb killed at least two people and wounded at least eight near a market in the Besmaya area, while a blast in Madain killed at least one soldier and wounded two.
And in northern Iraq, a roadside bomb killed a taxi driver in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, while gunmen shot dead a policeman in the city of Mosul.
The attacks came a day after a series of bombings across Iraq, including 14 blasts in and around Baghdad, killed 39 people and wounded more than 130.
It took just eight days for this month’s death toll to surpass that for the entire month of December last year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
Officials have blamed the violence on Al-Qaeda-linked militants emboldened by the civil war in neighboring Syria, but analysts and diplomats also say the government has not done enough to address underlying domestic grievances fuelling the violence.
Members of the country’s Sunni minority, who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Shiite-led government, have held demonstrations for almost a year.
Unrest spiked after security forces stormed a Sunni Arab protest camp north of Baghdad in April, sparking clashes that killed dozens of people.
The government has made some concessions aimed at placating Sunni Arabs, including freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of anti-Al-Qaeda fighters. It has also trumpeted security operations against militants.
But the daily attacks have shown no sign of abating, and violence has killed more than 6,300 people since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures.—W.G. Dunlop