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IRAQ WARS
18 dead in blasts in and around Baghdad

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) May 22, 2011
More than a dozen bomb attacks in and around Baghdad on Sunday left at least 18 people dead, including 12 people killed in a suicide attack, and 80 wounded.

The series of attacks comes just days after blasts against police in a tense northern city killed 29 people, with just months to go before all US forces must withdraw from Iraq amid questions over whether local security forces are up to the task of maintaining stability in the war-wracked country.

A total of 12 roadside bombs, three vehicles packed with explosives and one suicide attacker struck in the spate of morning blasts on Sunday, although it was not immediately clear to what extent, if any, the violence was coordinated.

The deadliest attack saw 12 people killed and 23 wounded in a suicide bombing in the town of Taji, 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of the capital, an interior ministry official said, on condition of anonymity.

A defence ministry official put the toll at 14 dead and 28 wounded in Taji.

A car bomb had initially gone off at around 9:00 am (0600 GMT) in the town and when residents and ambulance crews arrived at the scene, the suicide bomber blew himself up, causing the casualties, the interior ministry official said.

Among the victims were eight police killed, while four policemen and three soldiers were wounded.

The interior ministry official said the initial car bomb had exploded as a US army convoy was passing through Taji, but an American military spokesman said he had received "no indication" of any such attack.

In Baghdad, four roadside bombs and a car bomb near a police station in the southern neighbourhood of Al-Amil killed two people and wounded 15, including three policemen, while a roadside bomb in Saidiyah, also in the south, wounded three people.

Two separate roadside bombs, one near a hospital and another near a popular market, in the predominantly Shiite north Baghdad district of Sadr City left two people dead and 14 wounded, the interior ministry official said.

Police at the scene, however, told an AFP journalist that one of the blasts had been a car bomb.

Also in north Baghdad, a car bomb targeting a police brigadier general's convoy killed a civilian and wounded five people, including two of the senior commander's bodyguards.

Two roadside bombs in central Al-Wathiq square killed one person and wounded 12, six of them policemen, while a bomb blast in eastern Beirut Square wounded six.

Two people were wounded by two roadside bombs that were ostensibly targeting a civilian spokesman for Baghdad's security command centre in east Baghdad.

Sunday's violence comes a day after seven people were killed in attacks in the disputed northern province of Kirkuk, further raising tension in the oil-producing region after three bombings killed 29 people in Iraq's deadliest day since late March.

Kirkuk lies at the centre of a tract of disputed territory that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their autonomous region in the north over the opposition of its Arab and Turkmen communities.

Currently, US forces participate in confidence-building tripartite patrols and checkpoints with central government forces and Kurdish security officers in Kirkuk and across northern Iraq.

But the withdrawal of some 45,000 US troops still in Iraq must be completed by the end of the year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact.

Several top US officials have passed through Baghdad in recent weeks, including Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, to push Baghdad to decide soon whether it wants an extended American military presence or not.

Violence is down dramatically in Iraq from its peak in 2006-7, but attacks remain common. A total of 211 Iraqis were killed in violence in April, according to official figures.



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IRAQ WARS
Attacks in disputed Iraqi province kills seven
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) May 21, 2011
Seven people were killed in attacks in the disputed northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk on Saturday, police said, just two days after a string of anti-police attacks in the region killed 29. The latest violence further raised tension in Kirkuk and its capital of the same name, an oil-rich region claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and Kurdish regional authorities in Arbil. US ... read more







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