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.


Top US general visits airbase in fight for Mosul

No Russian air strikes on Aleppo in 7 days

Thousands of Yemenis await lifting of Coalition blockade

Iran calls for more Asian investment

Egypt rolls out austerity programme

25 travelling on inflatable dinghy found dead in Mediterannean

Villages reclaimed, but return still distant for Iraqi Christians

Turkey says will clear Kurdish fighters from Manbij

Russia cancels warship fuel stop after pressure on Spain to refuse permission

US, UK expect Raqa offensive within weeks

Sudan's Bashir to appoint PM for first time since coup

Israel army says soldier wounded by gunfire on Lebanese border

Students among 22 dead as raids hit Syria school

Israel charges 13 Jews with celebrating murder of Palestinians

Revolutionary Guards commander says Iranian firms should lead oil projects

Egyptian officer accidentally shoots dead Israeli teen

IS members ‘shave beards’ as Iraqi forces approach Mosul

US praises Qatar moves to deny jihadists funds

Clashes between protesters, police in Diyarbakir after Turkey arrests mayors

Saudi financial position strong despite oil prices says minister

Iran develops 'suicide drone'

UN envoy to Yemen presents peace proposal to Huthis

Turkey says US must extradite Gulen to avoid damaging ties

Mosul survivors recount fleeing IS 'caliphate'

Report finds Israeli forces could have avoided killings

NATO flies first surveillance mission backing anti-IS coalition

Russian FM says Mosul offensive equivalent to Moscow's Aleppo bombing

Saudi Arabia denies it imposed Yemen blockade

Syria Kurds say Turkey wants to prevent Raqa recapture

Anger at Israel national theatre show in occupied West Bank

UN receives reports of dozens of IS atrocities near Mosul

Hundreds protest against UN 'complicity' in rebel-held Yemen capital

Turkey FM says ground operation in Iraq a possibility

Iraqi forces retake town from IS

Iran nuclear negotiator cleared of spying charges

Al-Shabaab in suicide bomb attack on AU base in Somalia

Gunmen kill two policemen in eastern Saudi Arabia

Iraqi paramilitary to block IS from fleeing Mosul for Syria

Two imams arrested in Ibiza over 'Islamic State support'

US general raises Yemen concerns with Saudi officials

Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul face stiff resistance

At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey explosion

French FM annoys Turkey by contrasting states of emergency

UN planning for 150,000 displaced by Mosul battle

UAE jails Sudanese man for planning attacks on immigrants