Iraq violence picks up

Nearly two dozen people have been killed in a string of bomb attacks and shootings overnight violently ending three days of relative calm following Iraq's first election for a full-term parliament.

    The easing of poll security has seen fighting resume

    Those killed included two relatives of a Kurdish politician in northern Iraq, several police officers, a tea seller and an Interior Ministry driver.

    In the northern city of Kirkuk, two relatives of an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), were shot on Saturday as they were walking near their home, police said. The PUK is one of the main Kurdish parties and led by Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq.

    In Baghdad, a roadside bomb on Sunday killed three police officers and injured a further two.

    Another officer was killed and two police commissioners seriously injured in a firefight between a police patrol and armed men later in the day, police said.

    Fighters also killed a police officer and an Interior Ministry employee in different attacks on Sunday as they drove to work in western Baghdad. In the same area four police officers were seriously injured when their squad car was sprayed with bullets and, in a separate attack, a tea seller was shot to death.

    Easing of security

    A police captain and his driver were shot and killed in south Baghdad while two people, including an Interior Ministry driver, were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City area.

    A bomber driving a minivan killed a police officer and injured another two at a checkpoint near the Interior Ministry in eastern Baghdad, while police said a roadside bomb killed at least one woman and injured 11 other people in the northern Shia neighborhood of Kazimiya.

    The spate of attacks came after stringent security measures, put in place for the parliamentary elections, were eased by authorities.

    Traffic returned to normal on the first full working day since the vote as a ban on vehicles was lifted.

    Iraq's borders were reopened except the frontier with Syria, which remains closed. The authorities said it would reopen in a few days, but did not give a reason for the delay.

    Al-Qaida warnings

    Despite the days of relative calm, the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida has warned Sunni Arabs against being lulled into a false sense of security by the polls.

    Al-Qaida has told Sunni Arabs
    not to be fooled by the polls 

    "We say to our brothers: do not be fooled by what you have heard of the propaganda from the crusaders and their footmen," the group said in a statement on the internet.

    "The coming days will show you the fate of this 'democratic marriage' and the marriage of prostitution that it celebrated."

    The authenticity of the posting could not be verified.

    More than 15.5 million Iraqis were called to the polls on Thursday to elect the first full-term, 275-member parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, in April 2003.

    SOURCE: AFP


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