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.

 

UN Syria peace talks begin in Geneva

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

Iraqi forces enter IS-held west Mosul

Suicide bomb attack on rebels kills 51 near Al-Bab

Marrakesh clinches top ranking of African urban life

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi, pilot survives

Iraqi PM says air force strikes IS targets in Syria

UN slams light sentence for Israeli soldier

Saudi king seeks investment on rare Asia tour

Saudi minister discusses hajj with Iran

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seek German asylum since coup

New Hamas ‘strongman’ could spell fresh Israeli conflict

Suicide car bomb kills eight outside Yemen army base

Fired Turkish academics protest ‘unjust’ dismissals

Iraqi forces jovial after Mosul airport entry

Syrian rebels announce capture of flashpoint town from IS

Iraqi forces enter IS-held Mosul airport

Swedish citizen jailed for IS Facebook post

Somalia names new prime minister

Netanyahu backs pardon for Israel soldier who shot Palestinian

UN envoy meets Syrian rivals, hopes of breakthrough slim

Yemeni government forces pin back rebels on coast

Israeli Supreme Court appoints deeply right-wing judges

Hundreds of Australians protest Netanyahu

Yemen rebel fire kills policeman on Saudi border

UN condemns Israel's new West Bank demolition plans

UN envoy says Russia asked Syria to halt bombing during talks

Bahrain arrests 20, approves military trials for civilians

Israel blocks EU lawmakers from Gaza entry

Syrian migrant on trial in Austria over 20 murders

UN says rapes, killings still blight Darfur

Yemen president says Saudi saving $10 bn for reconstruction

Top Yemen commander killed in missile strike

New Somali president says ability to deal with nation's problems 'limited'

Israel lifts ban on basketball team playing in Turkey

Arab League condemns Israeli soldier’s lenient sentence

Turkey lifts ban on Islamic headscarves in army

Israeli ministry orders removal of Haifa ammonia tank

Iraqi forces ready for assault on Mosul airport