Thursday, November 21, 2013

Iraq attacks kill 48 as 2013 toll tops 5,800

Baquba (AFP) — A market bombing north of Baghdad was the deadliest in violence that killed 48 people on Thursday, as the year's death toll topped 5,800 amid a surge in unrest.

The flare-up has prompted Baghdad to appeal for international help to counter the worst bloodshed since 2008, just months before its first general election in four years.

Officials have voiced concern over a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria which has provided the jihadist network's front groups with increased room to plan operations in Iraq.

Thursday's attacks came a day after a spate of violence, mostly car bombs targeting Shiite districts of Baghdad, killed 59 people and wounded more than 100 in the highest death toll of the month.

Shootings and bombings struck in and around Baghdad and in north Iraq on Thursday.

In the deadliest incident, a car bomb exploded at around noon (0900 GMT) in a fruit and vegetable market in the town of Saadiyah, part of the restive ethnically mixed province of Diyala which has seen some of the worst bloodshed.

At least 32 people were killed and 40 wounded in the blast, officials said.

Saadiyah is populated mostly by Faylis, or Shiite Kurds, and is in territory Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their autonomous region in the north over the objections of the central government.

Militants frequently exploit poor communication between Kurdish and central government security forces to launch their attacks.

On November 14, a suicide bomber targeted a group of Shiite pilgrims in the town on the anniversary of the death of a venerated figure in Shiite Islam, killing 32 people.

Shootings and bombings elsewhere in Diyala, as well as in and around Baghdad and the main northern city of Mosul, left 14 others dead while security forces killed two militants.

Bodies thrown in river

Authorities in Diyala also found the bodies of a dozen residents snatched by kidnappers purporting to be in the security forces.

The 12 were executed and their bodies thrown into a river, reminiscent of targeted killings that were rampant during the worst of Iraq's sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007.

No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda often carry out such attacks, ostensibly to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government and security forces.