Iraq violence continues unabated

Deadly violence across Iraq has continued unabated, leaving more than 100 people dead and nearly 300 wounded in bombings since Friday.

    Police convoys were targeted in the latest attacks

    Attacks in Baghdad on Sunday morning claimed the lives of 10 people, including five members of the Iraqi security forces, after police convoys were bombed, an Interior Ministry official said. 

    The official added that 17 people were wounded. 

    The attacks follow Saturday's devastating bombing at the southern town of al-Musayyib, when a man detonated himself near a tanker of liquified gas, killing at least 70 people and wounding 95, according to hospital sources.

    The explosion also set the central square, cars and shops ablaze.
    The first attack on Sunday killed two policemen and one civilian in the eastern New Baghdad neighbourhood, police 1st Lieutenant Muhammad Jasim said. Seven policemen and one civilian were also wounded, some seriously.

    Police targeted

    About an hour later a second car bomb exploded near a police convoy near the Bayaa bus station in southern Baghdad, killing three police commandos and four civilians, police Captain Talib Thamir said. Three civilians were also injured in that blast.

    After a lull following a security sweep last month through the capital, attacks have increased in recent days.      

    "I saw women in the burning houses crying for help and we couldn't do a thing"

    Khodr Abbas, on Saturday's tanker bombing

    Saturday evening's bombing at al-Musayyib came at a time when people were out enjoying the relative evening coolness, and appeared to target a Shia mosque which also houses the local offices of supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
    "I was 100 metres away when I saw the fireball. It was enormous... People were burning in their cars. We had to get them out with hooks," said Khodr Abbas, a 24-year-old who works at the local al-Sadr office. 

    Devastating attack

    "I saw women in the burning houses crying for help and we couldn't do a thing," he said. 

    Iraqis search for their relatives
    among scores of bodies

    One of those injured, Ammar al-Karaguili, 40, said he saw desparate parents throwing their children out of windows and from balconies to escape the inferno.
    There was no immediate reaction from the government to the latest attacks as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was on a scheduled official visit to neighbouring Iran leading a large ministerial delegation.
    The trip aimed to turn the page on the neighbours' bloody war fought from 1980 to 1988 which left about a million dead. A peace treaty has still to be signed. 
    Iran relations

    In other violence on Saturday, a US soldier was killed and two more wounded by an improvised explosive device in the northern Kirkuk province of Iraq, the US military said on Sunday.
    This brought to 1757 the number of US military personnel killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to a tally based on Pentagon figures.
    Also on Saturday, three British soldiers were killed and two injured by a roadside bomb in the south of the country, bringing the overall figure for British casualties to 92. 
    Politically illegitimate

    Meanwhile, one of Britain's most senior former diplomats, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who served as British ambassador to the United Nations during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, branded it "politically illegitimate" in an incendiary new book that the government has moved to block, a British newspaper reported. 

    A boy victim of Saturday's
    attack next to a gas tanker

    Excerpts from the book were reproduced in Sunday's The Observer.

    In further developments on Sunday, Iraq's oil exports were suspended for 24 hours because of a strike by 15,000 employees of the South Oil Company, a company official said. 
    "The export of oil was stopped this morning at 8am by 15,000 employees who are demanding higher wages," said the official, requesting anonymity. 
    Oil strike

    Employees were also demanding a better share-out of oil export revenues by the government, he added.
    Nearly all of Iraq's daily output of 2.1 million barrels in June came from southern oilfields and all the exports of 1.43 million barrels a day flowed through southern terminals, according to Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum.

    Northern oil export routes remain paralysed due to the area's poor security situation.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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