Suicide bomber kills 32 at funeral march

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At least 32 people have died in a suicide car bomb attack near a funeral procession in Baghdad.

Half of the victims were policemen guarding the march, in the latest brazen attack since the US troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Police officials said the blast occurred in the mainly Shiite neighbourhood of Zafaraniyah, where mourners had gathered for the funeral of a person killed the day before. They said 65 people were wounded, including 16 policemen.

Minutes after the blast, gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Zafaraniyah, killing two policemen, according to police officials.

Across Iraq, at least 200 people have been killed in a wave of attacks by suspected insurgents since the beginning of the year, raising concerns that the surge in violence and an escalating political crisis might deteriorate into a civil war, just weeks after the US military withdrawal.

Most of the dead have been Shiite pilgrims and members of the Iraqi security forces.

Since the United States completed its pullout last month, militant groups – mainly al-Qaida in Iraq – have stepped up attacks targeting the country’s majority Shiites to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government and its efforts to protect people without American backup.

Seventeen people died in bombings in the country on Thursday.