x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Attacks mar US departure from Iraq

Fifteen people, three of them Iraqi soldiers, were killed and 63 wounded in a spate of attacks across Iraq today.

Fifteen people, three of them Iraqi soldiers, were killed and 63 wounded in a spate of attacks across Iraq today, security and hospital officials said, days before US troops must leave Iraq's cities. In Baghdad's sprawling Shiite slum neighbourhood of Sadr City, a roadside bomb hit a minibus, killing three university students who were on their way to sit their final exams. Twelve other students and the minibus driver were wounded in the morning rush-hour attack.

In Diyala province, one of Iraq's most dangerous, three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb that struck their patrol east of the provincial capital Baquba and destroyed their Humvee, a military official said. And in Khalees, also in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, a former al Qa'eda member who had recently been released from the US prison facility at Camp Bucca was assassinated by a gunman, the official added.

A woman and a four-year-old child were among three people killed when a bomb targeting a police patrol exploded near a market in Shaab, north-east Baghdad, hospital officials said. Another 30 people were wounded. Iraqi police set off a controlled explosion of another bomb in the same area soon afterwards. In the bustling commercial neighbourhood of Karrada in the centre of the capital, five people were killed and 20 wounded in a car bomb blast.

The killings were the latest bloody attacks in the run-up to the planned pullout of US troops from Iraqi towns and cities by June 30. Violence has dropped markedly in Iraq in recent months, with May seeing the lowest Iraqi death toll since the 2003 invasion. But attacks remain common, particularly in Baghdad and the main northern city of Mosul. The prime minister Nuri al Maliki warned earlier this month that insurgents and militiamen would likely step up their attacks in the coming weeks in a bid to undermine confidence in the Iraqi security forces.

In the deadliest attack for 16 months, 72 people were killed on Saturday in a massive lorry bombing in the predominantly Shiite Turkmen town of Taza Kharmatu near the northern oil hub of Kirkuk. Insurgents also shot dead nine police in Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq's two most populous cities, on Saturday and Sunday. *AFP