Bombings strike busy areas in Iraq, killing 25

June 4, 2014 - 4:04 PM
Mideast Iraq

An Iraqi policeman inspects the aftermath of two parked car bomb explosions that hit near a police building and a market in the oil-rich and ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Iraq is experiencing its worst surge in violence since the sectarian bloodletting that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007. The U.N. says 8,868 people were killed in 2013. (AP Photo/ Emad Matti)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombings tore through busy areas in the Iraqi capital and cities to the north and south on Wednesday, killing at least 25 people, officials said.

Iraq is experiencing its worst surge in violence since the sectarian bloodletting of 2006 and 2007, which pushed the country to the brink of civil war. The U.N. mission in Iraq said May was the deadliest month so far this year, with 799 Iraqis killed in violence, including 603 civilians. According to U.N. figures, 8,868 people were killed in 2013.

June also was off to a deadly start. A car bombing rocked a commercial area in the southern Shiite city of Hillah, killing eight civilians and wounding 28, according to a police officer and a medical official.

Back-to-back car bombs also struck a parking lot near a police building and a nearby commercial area in the ethnically mixed northern city of Kirkuk, killing a policeman and seven civilians, and wounding nine other people, deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul-Rahman Youssef said.

Kirkuk, about 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, is in an oil-rich region and is home to an ethnic mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, all of whom have competing claims to city.

Earlier Wednesday, a parked car bomb ripped through a commercial area in northern Baghdad, killing four civilians and wounding 12, a police officer said. In Baghdad's western Mansour neighborhood, a bomb went off next to a passing police patrol, killing two civilians and wounding seven other people.

A roadside bomb also killed two policemen and wounded three in Taji, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Baghdad. And a policeman was killed and six others wounded when a bomb hit their patrol in the area of Arab Jabour, a former insurgent stronghold some 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Baghdad.

Authorities in Iraq's western province of Anbar also said Wednesday that a suicide bomber targeted a group of pro-government, anti-militant Sunni militiamen late the night before, killing eight people and wounding 14.

The bomber struck the militiamen when they were patrolling a camp for families who had fled the months-long fighting in western Anbar province between militants from an al-Qaida splinter group and government forces allied with Sunni tribal fighters, a police officer said.

It was unclear if the bomber had come from the camp, which is located outside the provincial capital of Ramadi, or had followed the militiamen into it. The police officer said two militiamen, three guards and three women died in the explosion.

The officer identified one of the slain militiamen as Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha, the nephew of the influential tribal leader Ahmed Abu Risha whose brother led the formation of the original Sahwa — an anti-al-Qaida militia allied with U.S. forces — until his assassination in 2007.

The al-Qaida splinter group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other Sunni-led militant groups have strengthened their control over parts of Anbar province, including the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, since late December. The government has made little if any progress in its campaign to dislodge them.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials except for Youssef in Kirkuk spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

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