Iraq bombings kill soldiers and civilians

Violence surges as Sunni opposition against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-led government increases.

    Iraq bombings kill soldiers and civilians
    Sunni fighters often attack Shia Muslims, seeking to undermine Maliki's Shia-led government [EPA]

    Two bomb attacks have killed six people including three soldiers in two Iraqi cities, according to government officials.

    In the first incident on Friday, a police officer said, attackers detonated a bomb as an army jeep was driving through the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Abu Ghraib, killing three soldiers.

    Later, another police officer said a bomb exploded near a vegetable stand, killing three civilians and wounding 15 in the Shia Muslim-dominated city of Hillah, 95km south of capital Baghdad.

    Health officials confirmed the tolls, but spoke anonymously because they were not allowed to brief reporters.

    There were no claims of responsibility for the bombings.

    Violence in Iraq has been increasing as Sunni opposition increases against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose power-sharing government of Shias, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds has been largely paralysed since US troops withdrew in December 2011.

    The attacks were typical of al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch. Its Sunni fighters often attack Shia Muslims, seeing them as heretics, and also aiming to undermine the country's Shia-led government.

    Thousands of Sunni Muslim protesters have rallied daily since late December in western provinces against the perceived marginalisation of their sect, a minority in Iraq, and have demanded that Maliki quit.

    Iraqi Shia leaders fear that the war in neighbouring Syria - where Sunni rebels are fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran - could further destabilise Iraq's delicate sectarian and ethnic balance.

    The attacks also come in the run-up to provincial elections scheduled for April 20, due to be held in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces, the country's first polls since a parliamentary vote in March 2010.

    But questions have been raised over the credibility of the polls as they have been postponed in two provinces hit by months of protests, and 11 candidates have been killed, according to an AFP news agency tally.

    Although markedly lower than its peak in 2006 and 2007, levels of violence remain high in Iraq - more than 267 people have been killed in attacks last March, the highest figure since August 2012.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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