Wave of attacks kill at least 58 in Iraq

Updated: 2012-09-10 08:21

By Agencies in Baghdad (China Daily)

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Wave of attacks kill at least 58 in Iraq


Security personnel inspect the site of a bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, on Sunday. A suicide bomber killed at least five people at a police recruitment center in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, according to local police. Ako Rasheed / Reuters

Insurgents killed at least 58 people in a wave of attacks against Iraqi security forces on Sunday, gunning down soldiers at an army post and bombing police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs, officials said.

The violence, which struck at least 11 cities and also wounded nearly 240 people, highlighted militant attempts to sow havoc in the country and undermine the government.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but security forces are a frequent target of al-Qaida's Iraq branch, which has vowed to reassert itself and take back areas it was forced from before US troops withdrew from the country last year.

In Sunday's deadliest attack, gunmen stormed a small Iraqi Army outpost in the town of Dujail before dawn, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding eight more, according to police and hospital officials in the nearby city of Balad, about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

Hours later, a car bomb struck a group of police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs with the state-run Northern Oil Co outside the northern city of Kirkuk. City police commander Brigade General Sarhad Qadir said seven recruits were killed and 17 wounded. He said all the recruits were Sunni Muslims and blamed the early morning attack on al-Qaida, but did not provide details.

The carnage even stretched into the country's south, where bombs stuck to two parked cars exploded in the Shiite-dominated city of Nasiriyah, 320 km southeast of Baghdad. The blasts were near the French consulate and a local hotel in the city, although the consulate did not appear to be a target of the attack.

Local deputy health director Dr Adnan al-Musharifawi said two people were killed and three were wounded at the hotel, and one Iraqi policeman was wounded at the consulate. Al-Musharifawi said no French diplomats were among the casualties.

French diplomats have been hit before by violence in Iraq.

In June last year, a French embassy convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad that wounded seven local Iraqi guards and badly damaged an embassy vehicle. A month earlier, another French embassy convoy had been hit by an explosive device.

At that time France had been on high alert for attacks overseas due to tensions over the presence of its troops in Afghanistan and the country's ban on allowing full-length Islamic veils, which was widely criticized by Muslims abroad as harming their religious freedom.

The Iraqi government, riven by infighting among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political factions, is still struggling to battle Islamist militants and an al-Qaida affiliate nine months after the last US troops left.

Iraq's local al-Qaida wing, Islamic State of Iraq, has claimed responsibility for other major attacks on security forces and Shiite neighborhoods. But former members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baathist party and other Sunni Islamist groups are also fighting the government.

Tension in Iraq's delicate power-sharing government, and a resurgence of the al-Qaida group, have raised fears of a return to widespread violence, especially as Iraq struggles to contain spillover from the growing conflict in neighboring Syria.


(China Daily 09/10/2012 page11)