• 19 killed in Baghdad explosions

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    BAGHDAD: Three bombings in Baghdad, including one opposite the foreign ministry, killed at least 19 people and left 30 wounded on Wednesday, security and medical officials said, updating an earlier toll.

    The explosions, in confessionally mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad, come amid the worst surge in bloodshed in more than five years, raising fears Iraq is slipping back into the sectarian violence that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.

    The blasts, which also hit a restaurant and a market for vehicle spare parts, struck during the morning rush hour.

    The attack at the restaurant was a suicide bombing, while the other two explosions were caused by vehicles rigged with explosives.

    The area surrounding the foreign ministry in central Baghdad has been hit by explosions in the past, notably in August 2009, when a massive truck bomb devastated the building, and again ahead of an Arab summit in the Iraqi capital in 2012.

    More than 1,000 people were killed in January of this year, according to government data, as security forces have struggled to curb bombings while also battling jihadists and other militants who have seized territory in the western Anbar province.

    Foreign leaders and diplomats have urged the Shiite-led government to reach out to Iraq’s disaffected Sunni minority, but with parliamentary elections looming in April, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line.

    No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, but Sunni militant groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are typically blamed for violence in the capital.

    ISIL has also been involved in fighting security forces in Anbar province, a mostly Sunni desert region bordering Syria where militants have for weeks held parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, which lies on Baghdad’s doorstep.

    Along with ISIL, other militant groups and anti-government tribes have fought forces loyal to the central government.

    AFP

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