• Iraq PM to alter security strategy as violence rages

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    BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced an overhaul of Iraq’s security strategy on Monday as a fresh surge of violence killed dozens of civilians and police officers, bringing the month’s toll to 366.

    “We are about to make changes in the high and middle positions of those responsible for security, and the security strategy,” Maliki told journalists in Baghdad. Cabinet would discuss the matter on Tuesday, he said.

    “I assure the Iraqi people that they [militants]will not be able to return us to the sectarian conflict” that killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq in past years, he added.

    Just hours after his statement, bombings during evening prayers at two Shiite mosques in Hilla, south of Baghdad, killed 13 people and wounded another 71, police and a doctor said.

    One bomb exploded inside Al-Wardiyah mosque, while a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged belt at Al-Graita mosque nearby. Dozens of mosques have been attacked in Iraq so far this year.

    Earlier Monday, at around the time Maliki spoke, a car bomb exploded in Shaab, a Shiite area of north Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding at least 20, officials said.

    Two car bombs went off in the main southern port city of Basra, killing 13 people and wounding 48, while a wave of other bombings hit Baghdad, killing at least 11 people and wounding 102.

    In Balad, north of the capital, a car bomb exploded near a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims, killing eight people and wounding another 15.

    Monday’s killings brought the death toll from the last two days’ violence to 89 people including 24 police officers.

    The United States condemned the attacks.
    AFP

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