x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

At least 15 killed in latest wave of attacks across Iraq

Militants strike with nine car bombs and a shooting in six different Iraqi cities and towns as the latest violence brings the death toll to at least 235 this month.

BAGHDAD // Militants struck with nine car bombs and a shooting in six different Iraqi cities and towns on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 42, officials said.

With the latest violence, at least 235 people have been killed and 743 wounded in attacks in Iraq this month, based on official sources.

Four car bombs exploded on Sunday in Taji, north of Baghdad, killing at least six people and wounding eight others, an interior ministry official and a medical source said.

The first bomb exploded near a Shiite place of worship in the Al Askari neighbourhood, followed by three others in the same area, a security official said, adding women and children were among the victims.

A car bomb targeting a police convoy killed two policemen and wounded seven others east of Baquba, a city further north of Baghdad, while another car bomb exploded south of Baquba, killing one person and wounding seven, police and medics said.

Gunmen killed a policeman in Baghdad, and a car bomb exploded after a police patrol came to investigate, killing one and wounding four others, the ministry official said, while a medic put the toll at three dead and four wounded.

In Madain, south of Baghdad, a car bomb killed two people and wounded at least nine others. A witness said the bomb, which targeted a bus carrying Iranian religious pilgrims, exploded about 10.30am (11.30am UAE).

In Kut, a car bomb exploded near a river patrol force police station, killing a police captain and a major and wounding seven other people, among them two police officers.

The violence comes after 102 prisoners, including 47 convicted members of Al Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq, escaped from a prison in Tikrit, after a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside the jail on Thursday.

The prison was later assaulted by gunmen and 16 security force personnel were killed in clashes.

The interior ministry said on Friday night that four of the fugitives had been killed and 23 captured, as Iraqi forces continue to hunt for the others.

While insurgents opposed to the Baghdad government are regarded as weaker than in past years, they have shown they can strike at even the most heavily protected sites in Iraq.

Targets in recent months have included prisons, police stations, the anti-terrorism directorate in Baghdad, a military base and an entrance to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government is headquartered.

The Islamic State of Iraq said in July that it was launching a "new military campaign aimed at recovering territory".