x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Eleven die in surge of Iraq violence

Bomb and gunmen bring total killed this month to 420.

BAGHDAD // Attacks in Iraq yesterday killed 11 people, including four soldiers, officials said. It was the latest in a wave of violence that has left 420 people dead so far this month.

Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Taji, north of Baghdad, killing the four soldiers and wounding five others, security and medical officials said.

Near Baquba, also north of the capital, a roadside bomb in a market killed four people and wounded two, while gunmen killed two police and wounded two others in another attack.

Gunmen also killed a civilian in the north Iraq city of Mosul, police and a doctor said.

And in Tikrit, another city north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol, wounding two policemen.

The attacks came a day after 22 people were killed in violence. Among them were 12 shot dead at a Baghdad brothel and eight militants killed by security forces.

Violence in Iraq is down from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. More than 200 people have been killed in each of the first five months of this year.

More than 700 died in April, according to the United Nations, the highest monthly toll in almost five years.

There was no word on casualties among the attackers, or on their identity. Sunni militants with the Islamic State of Iraq, which has links to Al Qaeda, have previously targeted security forces and Sunni fighters who cooperate with the Shiite-led government. Recent attacks in Iraq have hit both Sunnis and Shiites.

The conflict in Syria, complicated by a Sunni-Shiite regional proxy war, has also strained Iraq's fragile communal balance and raised fears of a return to the violence of 2006-07, when monthly death tolls sometimes topped 3,000.

Resentful of their treatment by the government of the Shiite prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, Iraq's minority Sunnis have been protesting since December with demands that range from repealing laws seen as penalising their minority sect to forming their own autonomous region, akin to that run by the Kurds in the north.

Sunni militants have urged protesters to take up arms against the government.