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18 Shiite family members killed as Iraq unrest surges
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 04, 2013

Over 40 dead in wave of Iraq attacks centred on Baghdad
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 03, 2013 - A wave of car bombs ripped through Shiite areas of Baghdad on Tuesday, the deadliest attacks in nationwide violence that killed more than 40 people as Iraq grapples with surging unrest.

The bloodshed added to widespread concern that Iraq is edging towards a return to the all-out sectarian war that left tens of thousands dead in 2006-2007, amid a long-running political deadlock and persistent concerns of spillover from the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Iraqi officials have trumpeted wide-ranging operations targeting militants in which hundreds of alleged fighters have been captured and dozens killed, despite charges of failing to address root causes of the violence.

Eight car bombs went off in predominantly-Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 34 people and leaving more than 80 others wounded, according to security and medical officials.

The blasts went off at around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), the latest in a trend of attacks timed to coincide with Baghdad residents visiting cafes and other public areas during the evening.

In previous months and years, deadly coordinated violence has typically been confined to the morning rush-hour when the capital is normally in gridlock.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest bloodshed but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently carry out coordinated attacks targeting Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority who they regard as apostates.

Nine other people were killed in attacks earlier the same day, officials said.

In the morning, gunmen entered the home of a Sunni Arab militiaman in south Baghdad and killed him, his wife, two sons and a daughter.

That came a day after two sets of attacks against the Sunni militia killed 12 people, including a coordinated assault involving two suicide bombers and a car bomb on the home of the militia's national chief in which he was wounded.

From late 2006 onwards, Sunni tribal militias, known as the Sahwa, turned against their co-religionists in Al-Qaeda and sided with the US military, helping to turn the tide of Iraq's bloody insurgency.

But Sunni militants view them as traitors and frequently target them.

Also on Tuesday, two Shiite Muslim men were shot dead outside their homes in south Baghdad, while a policeman was killed by a roadside bomb in the predominantly Sunni northern city of Mosul.

Attacks have killed more than 3,800 people since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally.

Officials have vowed to press on with a campaign targeting militants that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says has captured 800 alleged fighters and killed dozens of others, as well as dismantling training camps and bomb-making sites.

But the government has faced criticism for not doing more to tackle anger in the Sunni Arab community over alleged ill-treatment at the hands of Iraq's Shiite-led authorities.

Analysts and diplomats say this has given militant groups room on the ground to recruit and carry out attacks.

Attacks around Baghdad and north Iraq left 35 people dead on Wednesday, including 18 members of a Shiite family killed by militants, the latest in a nationwide surge of violence.

The unrest came a day after a wave of bombings targeting Shiites in Baghdad and shootings and bombings elsewhere killed 61 people, further raising fears Iraq is slipping back into the all-out sectarian bloodshed that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.

Authorities, meanwhile, announced the arrest of an alleged senior aide to Izzat al-Duri, the highest-ranking member of executed dictator Saddam Hussein's regime still on the run.

Wednesday's violence struck towns on the outskirts of Baghdad as well as predominantly Sunni cities in the north of the country, with the deadliest attack hitting south of the capital.

Shortly after midnight, militants bombed adjacent houses belonging to Shiite Muslim brothers in the town of Latifiyah, which lies about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Baghdad.

A total of 18 people were killed, including five women and six children, and a dozen others were wounded, according to an army officer and a doctor at a nearby hospital.

Latifiyah lies within a confessionally-mixed region known as the "Triangle of Death", so named for the brutal violence that plagued the area during the peak of Iraq's sectarian war in 2006-2007.

Last week, another attack on a Shiite family in the same town killed at least five people.

No group claimed responsibility for the latest violence, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently carry out attacks against Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority who they regard as apostates.

Separate attacks in Besmaya, Iskandiriyah and Tarmiyah, also on Baghdad's outskirts, killed nine people, including seven soldiers.

A shooting and bombings in three Sunni-majority cities north of the capital killed eight people, including five policemen who died in a suicide car bombing against a police station in Mosul, one of Iraq's most restive cities.

The latest bloodshed came as Baghdad was still reeling from a wave of car bombs targeting Shiite neighbourhoods on Tuesday evening that killed 50 people, while unrest elsewhere left 11 others dead.

Among the attacks was a car bombing in the central commercial district of Karrada where four storefronts were badly damaged.

Workers were still picking up the pieces from the previous evening's violence on Wednesday.

At one restaurant, where windows were completely shattered by the blast, three men were consoling each other as they tried to clean up the aftermath of the attack.

"Please, we have cried enough," one of them told another, before himself breaking into tears, while one man held up the clothes of a friend who died in the attack and shouted, "These are his clothes -- what should I do with them?"

Attacks have surged since the beginning of the year, killing more than 3,900 people already in 2013, according to an AFP tally.

AKE Group, a risk consultancy, said it had recorded an average of 155 deaths per week since April, compared to an average of around 60 per week from the beginning of 2011 until April of this year.

"This is a clear escalation and AKE expects conditions to remain more hostile than usual for the foreseeable future," it said in a statement.

Iraqi officials have trumpeted wide-ranging operations targeting militants in which hundreds of alleged fighters have been captured and dozens killed.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Counter Terrorism Service announced the arrest of Hussein al-Khazraji, who security forces say is a top aide to Izzat al-Duri, Saddam's vice president.

Saddam's Baath party has said Duri, the king of clubs in the US deck of cards showing the most-wanted members of the ousted president's regime, died in 2005.

But audio messages have been attributed to him in recent years and he is accused of orchestrating violent attacks.

Despite the string of operations and arrests, a long-running political deadlock combined with frustrations in Iraq's Sunni Arab minority and concerns that neighbouring Syria's civil war is spilling over into Iraq have fuelled warnings that violence is unlikely to abate.


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Spate of Iraq attacks kills 17: officials
Baghdad (AFP) Sept 02, 2013
Attacks in Baghdad and mostly Sunni areas of Iraq killed 17 people Monday, including eight in a coordinated attack on the home of an anti-Qaeda militia chief, officials said. The Turkish consul to the northern city of Mosul and a top criminal judge in executed dictator Saddam Hussein's home town were also caught in bomb attacks. The violence was the latest in a surge of unrest that has k ... read more

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