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Fatal blasts hit Iraq's capital

At least 13 people killed in two separate bombings, as bloodshed returns to its highest level in Iraq in five years.

Last updated: 12 Jan 2014 13:32
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Blasts killed hundreds in recent months amid security vacuum, sectarian strife and ISIL's operations [AFP]

At least 13 people have died in two separate blasts in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, while battles continue in the western province of Anbar against al-Qaeda-linked gunmen who have captured two major cities.

A car bomb near a bus terminal in central Baghdad detonated on Sunday, killing at least nine people and injuring 16 others, police sources told Al Jazeera.

In northern east Baghdad's Khadhimiyah neighbourhood, another blast in Adan Square killed four people and injured 14, according to police sources. 

No group immediately claimed responsibilities for the attacks. However, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has gained ground over the past year in Anbar province bordering Syria, where it is also engrossed in the three-year civil war.

In Sulaimaniyah, the second-biggest city in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, a sticky bomb targeted a general, damaging his vehicle but left him unharmed, an official  said.

This is the latest of several attacks in the normally peaceful Kurdish region in recent months.

Bloodshed in Iraq has returned to its highest level in five years, a surge of violence partly fuelled by the war that began in Syria some months before US forces ended their nine-year occupation of Iraq in 2011. 

On January 1, ISIL seized control of two cities in Sunni-dominated Anbar, raising the stakes in a confrontation with the Shia-led government, which has vowed to eradicate al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The Iraqi army has deployed tanks and artillery around one of those cities, Fallujah, threatening to storm the town unless local tribesmen expel gunmen from the ISIL.

Ramadi, the provincial capital, was retaken by the army with the help of tribes in the area.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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