Blasts kill 62 across Iraq on day of bloodshed

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A SERIES of car bombings in Baghdad, an explosion at a market and a suicide assault in a northern city killed at least 62 people across Iraq yesterday, officials said, the latest in a wave of attacks washing over the country.

Co-ordinated bombings hit Iraq multiple times each month, resulting in a rise in bloodshed that has killed more than 5,000 people since April.

The local branch of al-Qaida often takes responsibility for the assaults, although there was no immediate claim for yesterday’s blasts, which were the deadliest single-day series of assaults since October 5, when 75 people were killed in violence.

Police officers said that the bombs in the capital, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour period, targeted commercial areas and parking lots, killing 42 people.

The deadliest blasts struck in the southeastern Nahrwan district, where two car bombs exploded simultaneously, killing seven
and wounding 15, authorities said.

Two other explosions hit the northern Shaab and southern Abu Dshir neighbourhoods, each killing six people, officials said.

Other blasts hit the neighbourhoods of Mashtal, Baladiyat and Ur in eastern Baghdad, the southwestern Bayaa district and the northern Sab al-Bor and Hurriyah districts.

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers as they were sealing off a street leading to a bank where troops were receiving salaries, killing 14, a police officer said.

At least 30 people were wounded, the officer said. Also in Mosul, police said gunmen shot dead two off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting.

The former insurgent stronghold of Mosul is located about 225 miles north-west of Baghdad.

In the afternoon, a bomb blast killed four people and wounded 11 inside an outdoor market in the Sunni town of Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, authorities said.

Such co-ordinated attacks are a favourite tactic of al-Qaida’s local branch.

It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government, as well as members of the security forces. All of the car bombings on Sunday in Baghdad struck Shiite neighbourhoods.

The Shia-led government has been accused of failing to address grievances among the Sunni Arab minority, including allegations of abuses by security forces.

Seven medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to publicly release the information.

In Mashtal in Baghdad, police and army forces sealed off the scene as ambulances rushed to pick up the wounded. Pools of blood covered the pavement.

The force of the explosion damaged a number of cars and shops. At one restaurant, the blast overturned wooden benches and left broken eggs scattered on the ground. In Shaab, a crane lifted away at least 12 charred cars as cleaners swept away debris.

Violence has spiked in Iraq since April, when the pace of killing reached levels unseen since 2008.

Yesterday’s attacks bring the death toll across the country this month to 545, according to an Associated Press count. Countrywide violence, often fuelled by sectarian divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims, has reached its highest level since 2008.