First Published: 2013-04-15

 

Iraq wakes up to deadly car bomb attacks

 

19 people killed,200 wounded in spate of car bomb attacks in Tuz Khurmatu, Nasiriyah.

 

Middle East Online

By Ammar Karim, Salam Faraj - BAGHDAD

More than a dozen bombings across Iraq on Monday killed at least 19 people in the latest in a spike in violence just days before the country's first elections since US troops withdrew.

The violence, which struck during morning rush hour amid tightened security ahead of the polls, also wounded almost 200 people and raises further questions about the credibility of the April 20 vote, seen as a key test of Iraq's stability and its security forces' capabilities.

A total of 14 election hopefuls have already been murdered and just 12 of the country's 18 provinces will be taking part.

Officials said 18 car bombs exploded Monday in Baghdad, the northern cities of Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu and Tikrit, the central city of Samarra, and Hilla and Nasiriyah south of Baghdad. Three roadside bombs also hit Baquba, north of the capital.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently attack both government targets and civilians in a bid to destabilise the country, and have reportedly sought to intimidate candidates and election officials ahead of polls.

The deadliest attacks were in Baghdad, where six car bombs struck in five neighbourhoods across the capital despite tougher checkpoint searches and heightened security.

Eight people were killed and 48 wounded in the capital, security and medical officials said, and an AFP journalist reported that officials in a tow truck were checking for suspicious vehicles in central Baghdad in the wake of the violence.

In Tuz Khurmatu, which lies 175 kilometres (110 miles) north of Baghdad, six people were killed and 60 wounded by three near-simultaneous car bombs, according to a provincial council member and a doctor.

And in Kirkuk, four people were killed and 19 wounded by another trio of car bombs, provincial health chief Sadiq Omar Rasul said.

Explosions elsewhere in Iraq killed one person and wounded 64 people.

Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu lie at the centre of a tract of disputed territory that stretches from Iraq's eastern border with Iran to its western frontier with Syria.

The swathe of land is claimed by both the mostly-Arab government in Baghdad and the three-province autonomous Kurdistan region of north Iraq.

The dispute is often cited by officials and diplomats as the biggest long-term threat to Iraq's stability.

Soldiers and policemen cast their ballots for the provincial elections on Saturday, a week ahead of the main vote, the country's first since March 2010 parliamentary polls. It is also the first election since US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011.

The election also comes amid a long-running crisis between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and several of his erstwhile government partners, which officials and diplomats say give insurgent groups exploit by using the political differences to enhance their room for manoeuvre on the ground.

More than 8,000 candidates are standing in the elections, with 378 seats on provincial councils up for grabs. An estimated 16.2 million Iraqis are eligible to vote, among them about 650,000 members of the security forces.

Although security has markedly improved since the height of Iraq's confessional conflict in 2006-2007, 271 people were killed in March, making it the deadliest month since August, according to AFP figures.

 

Supplies dwindle, strikes intensify in Syria's Aleppo

Yemeni forces kill suspected Qaeda chief

Trump says he'll recognize Jerusalem as Israel's 'undivided' capital

British FM begins key Turkey visit

Famous archway collapses on Moroccan beach

Three Turkish soldiers killed in PKK attack

Moscow slams 'unacceptable' UN statements on Syria

Coalition prefers final Yemen settlement to 'short' truce

Bulgaria court error delays trial over Hezbollah bombing

Oman court closes national newspaper, jails three journalists

Oil prices rise modestly ahead of OPEC meeting

Qatari official banned from AFC vote

US, Russia split on Syria’s Aleppo carnage

Death toll from Egypt migrant shipwreck jumps to 168

Warplanes pound Aleppo ahead of UN Syria meeting

Dubai drops charges against Briton who promoted charity

Israel sentences Islamic cleric for incitement

Turkey sets precondition for joining US Raqa operation

Campaigning for parliamentary polls begins in Morocco

EU mission to train Libya coastguard faces delay

Gunman kills prominent writer on steps of courthouse in Jordan

Mosul offensive to start in ‘next few weeks’

New wave of air strikes pummels Aleppo

US, Russia trade blame for collapse of ceasefire in Syria

Hadi vows to ‘extract Yemen from claws of Iran’

Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

Morocco asks to rejoin African Union

Air raids pound rebel-held Aleppo

Turkey arrests prominent writer brothers

Egypt shipwreck death toll rises to 133

Gulen says will return to Turkey if US backs extradition

Occupation troops shoot, wound Palestinian with knife

UN eyes alternate aid delivery route for Syria's Aleppo

Iran condemns Saudi strikes in Yemen

Turkey's Erdogan says US arming Syrian Kurds

Obama to block Saudi 9/11 prosecution

Oil prices ease as focus shifts to producers' meeting

Opposition 'minister' among 12 dead in Syria car bomb

'13 dead' in clashes with IS in Libya's Sirte

20 civilians killed in Yemen rebel port raid

Turkish border town hit by rocket fired from Syria

Syria's White Helmets win Swedish human rights prize

UN pleads with Assad over food aid stuck at Syria border

Rouhani jabs USA over nuclear deal in UN address

Dozens more feared dead in Egypt boat tragedy