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Middle East
Scores die in Iraq bomb blasts
Attacks in Baghdad and near northern city of Mosul leave more than 50 people dead.
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2009 11:27 GMT

The bomb in Baghdad's western Amil district exploded near a group of day-labourers [AFP]

More than 50 people have been killed and at least 286 others wounded in a series of bombings near the northern city of Mosul and in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, officials have said.

In the deadliest attack, two lorries packed with explosives blew up simultaneously on Monday in the predominantly Shia village of Khazna, 20km north of Mosul.

At least 35 people were killed and 200 others wounded in the attack, police and hospital officials said.

"I was sleeping on the roof and I woke up as if there was an earthquake. After that I saw a plume of smoke and dust spreading everywhere," Mohammed Kadhem, a Khazna resident, told the AFP news agency.

"A minute later another bomb went off, knocking me off the roof onto the ground. I was struck unconscious by shrapnel and stones," he said.

Minorities 'suffering' 

The blast also levelled more than 30 houses in the village.

The village is home to members of the Shabak community, a Shia minority group, outside of Mosul, a predominately Sunni city with significant Christian and Shia minorities.

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 Inside Iraq

Khanza, which is under the control of Kurdish peshmerga forces, also lies on the southern edge of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Hunain Qaddu, an Iraqi member of parliament representing the Shabak, said the peshmerga have never been able to protect his community.

"We are suffering at the hands of the peshmerga," Qaddu told Al Jazeera.

"They are probably indirectly responsible for the attacks because they have rejected the idea of establishing a security force from the inhabitant people.

"We would ask the Iraqi government to deploy the Iraqi forces in our area ... to protect all Iraqi minorities whether they are Shabak or Turkmen or Christian."

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, has promised to protect minorities, as have the opposition Change list, which gained ground in recent elections.

But Qaddu said he does not trust these claims.

"The only party you can trust is the government security forces, the force which really is connected to the Iraqi central government and not to the political parties."

Baghdad blast

In a separate attack in the Amil district of western Baghdad on Monday, seven people were killed and 46 others injured after a bomb exploded near a gathering of day-labourers waiting on the street.

The blast was followed by a similar attack on labourers and construction workers in the nearby Shurta district of western Baghdad.

That blast left nine people dead and 40 others wounded.

The government ordered a number of barriers removed last week [REUTERS]

The attacks come a day after Iraqi forces began dismantling a number of protective barriers around Baghdad.

The government had ordered the concrete blast walls removed in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy and assure Iraqis that the security situation was improving in the country.

It announced last week that the barriers, which were put in place to protect markets, banks, buildings and major roads from suicide bombers and other attacks, would be dismantled within 40 days.

Attacks in Iraq remain common, raising doubts about the ability of Iraqi security forces to stand alone following the pull back of US forces from the country's major cities and towns at the end of June.

Tahsin Sheikhly, the civil spokesman for Baghdad security, said Monday's attacks indicated that security remains a challenge for Iraqi authorities.

"The insurgency in Iraq has waned in the last 18 months, except bombs in Mosul and a few other areas," he told Al Jazeera.

"We believe that the enemy of Iraq is still trying to do something terrible to the security situation here in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, because it is the key for Iraq's security."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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