Iraq speaker escapes assassination bid

Osama al-Nujaifi's convoy targeted by roadside bomb in northern city of Mosul while 21 rebels die in blast in Samarra.

    Osama al-Nujaifi's convoy was targeted by a roadside bomb injuring two of his guards [AP]
    Osama al-Nujaifi's convoy was targeted by a roadside bomb injuring two of his guards [AP]

    The speaker of the Iraqi parliament has escaped an assassination attempt in the northern city of Mosul, police say.

    Osama al-Nujaifi was in a convoy that was targeted on Monday by a roadside bomb in the Salam neighbourhood of Mosul.

    Police said that two of his guards were injured in the attack.

    Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province, where al-Nujaifi's brother Atheel is governor, are two of Iraq's most violent areas, with attacks regularly targeting security forces, government officials as well as civilians.

    In another blast, at least 21 fighters, including a suicide bomber, died after a car bomb mistakenly went off in a compound housing rebels north of Baghdad, a pro-government armed group leader and a police officer told AFP news agency.

    The group were filming a propaganda video of the would-be suicide attacker when a technical glitch set off the car bomb in the Jilam area south of Samarra, according to Majeed Ali, the head of the Sahwa force in the city, and a police officer.

    Jilam, a mostly rural farming area just south of the mostly Sunni city of Samarra, has long been a stronghold of the anti-government fighters.

    The blast, which occurred at 8am local time (0500 GMT), went off within a compound in the area, Ali and the police officer said.

    Violence has surged markedly higher in recent months, with more than 1,000 people killed in January alone, according to the government data.

    Attacks have largely been concentrated in the capital, Baghdad and Sunni Arab parts of Iraq's north and west, including the Samarra region.

    The government has been battling fighters in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, which have been under the control of fighters, many of them linked to al-Qaeda.

    Analysts and diplomats have urged the Shia-led Baghdad government to reach out to the disaffected Sunni minority to undermine support for armed fighters, but Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has taken a hard line in the run-up to the April parliamentary elections.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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