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Iraqi PM calls for world's help amid violence

Maliki sees long fight ahead as attacks in Baghdad Baquba and Mosul kill 86 and fighting continues in Anbar province.

Last updated: 16 Jan 2014 08:31
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Iraq's prime minister has called for international help in his fight against armed Sunni groups amid continued violence in his country.

Nouri al-Maliki, who leads a Shia-dominated government, gave warning of a long fight ahead as 86 people died in a series of attacks in Baghdad. Baquba and Mosul on Wednesday.

In his weekly televised address, Maliki appealed for international action against al-Qaeda and its affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"It may take time," he said "but ... to keep silent means there would be sub-states creating problems for the security of the region and the world."

Maliki called for "a strong position against countries who give support" to armed groups and urged world powers to "drain the resources of terrorists".

ISIL fighters and their local allies in the western Anbar province hold the town of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and other diplomats have urged Iraq's leaders to seek political reconciliation to end the ongoing violence and the crisis in Anbar.

However, Maliki has ruled out talking to the fighters and has used his military against them.

Deadly car bombings

So far, Maliki's strategy has failed to rein in the sectarian violence. Nine car bombs hit civilian targets on Wednesday in majority-Shia or confessionally mixed neighbourhoods of Baghdad, killing 48 people.

One of them struck a packed market in the Shaab neighbourhood, while another exploded outside a restaurant on Sanaa Street, killing five peoples, an AFP journalist reported.

The windows of nearby shops were shattered, the restaurant's ceiling partially caved in and blood and mangled vehicle parts scattered across the street.

Middle East analyst Juan Cole discusses Iraq unrest

The Baghdad attack could have been much worse, with police saying they managed to arrest four would-be suicide bombers, all allegedly foreign Arabs, in four different Shia neighbourhoods.

Elsewhere, a suicide bombing at a funeral in Buhruz, in religiously mixed Diyala province north of Baghdad, killed 25 people and wounded 23, officials said.

The funeral was for a member of the Sahwa, the Sunni Arab tribal militia who sided with the US military against al-Qaeda from 2006.

They are often targeted by Sunni fighters who regard them as traitors.

In the northern city of Mosul, 13 people were killed, nine of them soldiers, while seven employees of a brick factory were shot dead in Muqdadiyah, 80km north of Baghdad.

Counterattack in Anbar

Meanwhile, in Anbar security forces attacked a town near Fallujah that had been seized by ISIL fighters and commandos swept in to clear the area, senior military officials said on Wednesday.

The counterattack came a day after fighters blew up an explosives-laden fuel tanker at an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers, on a small bridge near Saqlawiya, just north of Fallujah.

Heavily armed fighters then stormed into the town and surrounded the main police station, forcing all the policemen to relinquish their weapons and leave.

The fighters also retook a police station in Malaab, a major district of Ramadi, just days after Iraqi security forces declared success in the area.

However, following Wednesday's air raids against them, the fighters fled, allowing Iraqi troops to enter Saqlawiyah, the senior military officials said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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