First Published: 2013-01-16


Fresh wave of attacks adds fuel to Iraq’s fire: Up to 42 people killed


Hundreds attend funeral of Sunni MP who died in suicide attack one day earlier, amid political crisis engulfing Iraq.


Middle East Online

By Marwan Ibrahim – KIRKUK (Iraq)

Assassinations on rise in Iraq

Attacks in Baghdad and north Iraq killed 42 people on Wednesday as hundreds attended the funeral of a Sunni MP who died in a suicide attack a day earlier, as a political crisis grips the country.

The violence, which struck mostly in disputed territory in the north and which officials also said wounded at least 245 people, was the deadliest this year.

It comes as Iraq grapples with a long-running political dispute, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki facing several protests in hardening opposition against his rule and calls from many of his erstwhile government partners for his ouster.

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

Wednesday's deadliest attacks struck the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Baghdad. Two car bombs in the same district killed at least 26 people and wounded 190, provincial health chief Sadiq Omar Rasul said.

"Both explosions inflicted massive destruction," said police Brigadier General Sarhad Qader. "Our forces are still trying to remove corpses from the rubble" of the first attack.

That blast was detonated by a suicide attacker during the morning rush hour and appeared to target a compound housing local offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani.

A second car bomb parked on the side of a road nearby detonated shortly afterwards, apparently targeting a KDP official.

Qader said six security force members were also killed and 10 wounded in the two blasts.

Another suicide car bomb in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, also north of Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 40 others. It struck near the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Both Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu lie in a tract of disputed territory in north Iraq that Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its autonomous three-province region against the wishes of the central government in Baghdad.

The row is regarded by diplomats and officials as the greatest long-term threat to Iraq's stability.

In Baghdad, five attacks left six people dead, officials said, while bombings and shootings in Baiji, Hawija and Tikrit, all north of the capital, killed five others.

Wednesday's overall death toll was the highest since December 17.

The latest attacks come a day after the killing of a Sunni Iraqi MP in a suicide bombing west of Baghdad, with hundreds of mourners attending Ayfan al-Essawi's funeral outside the predominantly Sunni town of Fallujah on Wednesday.

Essawi's coffin, covered in an Iraqi flag, was transported atop an SUV that was part of a massive convoy of dozens of vehicles. One person was wounded by a roadside bomb as the procession set off for the cemetery, despite heavy security measures.

The lawmaker was a former leader of the Sahwa, a collection of Sunni tribal militias that turned against Al-Qaeda and sided with the US military from late 2006, helping to turn the tide of Iraq's bloody insurgency.

Sahwa fighters are frequently targeted for attacks by Sunni militants who view them as traitors.

The violence comes amid a political crisis that has pitted Maliki against several of his ministers just months ahead of key provincial elections.

Weeks of anti-government demonstrations in Sunni Arab majority areas, supported by several parties that are members of Maliki's unity cabinet, have hardened opposition against Maliki, a Shiite.

Violence is down across Iraq since the country's brutal sectarian war, but attacks remain common, especially in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.


Turkey and the Islamic State

Al-Nusra Front frees Lebanese hostages in swap deal

US over-reliance on Kurds in anti-ISIS fight carries many risks

Yemen President reshuffles cabinet ‘to smooth differences’ with PM

Despite huge global pressure, labour exploitation continues in Qatar

Global warming could deprive planet of oxygen

US Special Ops will be deployed to fight IS jihadists in Iraq

Egypt arrests (another) prominent journalist

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians after alleged stabbing attacks

Putin accuses Turkey of protecting ISIS oil exports

Syrians reach deal for exit of rebels from last Homs district

Israeli advert accused of racism

Shelling from Yemen kills another Saudi border guard

Qaeda warns Saudi Arabia against executing jihadists

Iran denies any links to alleged terror plot in Kenya

Tunisia shortens curfew imposed in capital

German cabinet approves assistance to fight ISIS

Britain looks poised to join Syria air strikes

Mixed verdict by Israeli court for settlers who burned Palestinian teen alive

UAE says ready to commit ground troops in Syria

Iran pilgrims break through Iraq border fence

Syria regime denies chemical weapons use

Erdogan: Turkey will not apologise to Russia

3 Saudi soldiers killed on Yemen border

Syrians negotiate rebel exit from Homs

Frustration grows as Tunisia keeps border shut over deadly blast

France says cooperation with Syria not possible under Assad regime

Iran: Saudi plan for Syria ignores Vienna agreements

Iraq PM says country has sufficient forces to fight IS

Kuwait names new acting Oil Minister in cabinet reshuffle

Number of ISIS executions hits more than 3,500 in Syria alone

‘Russia’ air strikes kill at least 18 civilians in Ariha town in Syria

EU offers Turkey cash, closer ties at migration summit

Saudi women begin first-ever campaigns for public office

Bashir takes another step on path of rapprochement with Gulf countries

Iran wants closure of nuclear probe in order to implement deal

Iran General ‘seriously wounded’ in rocket attack in Syria

Turkey seeks to ease tensions with Moscow

Turkey protests against journalist arrests

Corbyn criticised over Syria air strike rejection

Saudi women begin first-ever election campaign

Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS