Series of blasts kill 42 in Iraq


Baghdad : Six consecutive blasts targeting predominantly Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 100 Monday, the police and media reports said.

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The first of four attacks in two hours hit the central Baghdad neighbourhood of al-Allawi, killing at least six people, the police said, adding that most of the dead and the 17 wounded were day-labourers queuing up for work.

That attack was quickly followed by a blast in a crowded market in the predominantly Shia slum of Sadr City. At least 12 people were killed and at least 37 were wounded in that attack, the police and Baghdad’s al-Iraqia television said.

Almost immediately afterwards, another car bomb in a crowded market in eastern Baghdad killed at least three people and wounded at least 15 more.

Across town, at a market in western Baghdad, two near-simultaneous blasts killed at least 12 people and wounded at least 32 more, police said.

And in the suburb of New Baghdad, an interior ministry official survived a bomb attack meant for him, but two of his bodyguards and one bystander were killed and at least 12 others were wounded, police said.

In the latest attack in the northern city of Mosul, six people, four civilians and two policemen, were killed. The attack was targeted a police patrol in the southern Mosul neighbourhood of al-Ghazlani, the police told DPA.

Police added that they had earlier detained four suspected members of Al Qaeda in Iraq wanted by police on charges of planning bomb attacks against police officers.

The number of fatalities from attacks across Iraq in January was at its lowest since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, but a series of deadly bomb attacks has driven the number of casualties up in the months since January’s provincial council elections.

Last week, Iraqi security forces backed by US soldiers clashed with members of a Sunni militia, or “Awakening Council”, in the Baghdad slum of Fadhil after Iraqi security officers arrested Adil al-Mashhadani, the leader of the militia.

At least four people were killed in the clashes, and Iraqi security officials acknowledged that “hundreds” of militiamen may have escaped with their weapons.

Control over the Sunni militias formally passed to the Iraqi government, which today is dominated by Shia and Kurds, on Thursday.

In 2006, the US military began arming and training the Awakening Councils to fight Sunni insurgents in some of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad and Iraq.

The programme led to a dramatic reduction in violence and the arrest of men Iraqi police said were responsible for attacks around the country, but the government has been mistrustful of the militias, saying that some of their ranks had been infiltrated by ex-Baathists and wanted insurgents.