Iraq attacks kill 33 as 2014 toll tops 4,000

Attacks across Iraq killed 33 people on Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 people dead this year.

AFP| Last Updated: May 28, 2014, 22:59 PM IST

Baghdad: Attacks across Iraq killed 33 people on Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 people dead this year.

The shootings and bombings struck in Baghdad and restive parts of the north and west, leaving dozens more wounded, security and medical officials said.

The protracted spike in bloodletting has fuelled fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out conflict that plagued it in 2006 and 2007, when a brutal sectarian war left tens of thousands dead.

In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in north Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50 others, security and medical officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Elsewhere in and around the capital, six people were killed in multiple attacks, while three others died in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh.

Also in north Iraq, a series of 11 bombings in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu killed five people, four of them members of the same family, and wounded 11.

The blasts targeted homes belonging to ethnic Turkmen.

The town, which is also populated by Arabs and Kurds, lies in a stretch of territory that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate into their autonomous region over the objections of the central government.

Insurgents often exploit poor communication between Arab and Kurdish security forces to carry out attacks in the area.Shelling in the militant-held city of Fallujah, a short drive west of Baghdad, killed three more people, a day after Human Rights Watch criticised the government for possibly violating the laws of war by shelling the city`s main hospital.

All of Fallujah and parts of nearby Anbar provincial capital Ramadi have been out of government hands since the beginning of the year.

Security forces have shelled Fallujah repeatedly for months.

They insist they are targeting militant hideouts, but human rights groups and residents say civilians are bearing the brunt of the bombardment.

Violence in Iraq has surged to its highest level since 2008.

The authorities blame external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria, and insist wide-ranging operations against militants are having an impact.

But near-daily attacks have continued and diplomats say the Shiite-led government must do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority to curb support for militancy.

The unrest comes as incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pursues re-election following April 30 polls that put him in the driver`s seat with by far the highest number of seats.

But the premier`s bloc fell short of an absolute majority on its own, and he will have to court the support of rivals, many of whom have refused to countenance a third term for Maliki.
His opponents blame him for the marked deterioration in security in the past year, as well as rampant corruption and what critics say is insufficient improvement in basic services.
Maliki, however, contends he has been hamstrung by a national unity government that snipes at him in public and has blocked his legislative efforts in parliament.