x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Series of attacks in Iraq kills at least 27 day after Sunni MP is killed

The violence comes amid a political crisis that pits the prime minister Nouri Al Maliki against several of his ministers just months ahead of key provincial elections.

KIRKUK, IRAQ // A wave of attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital today left at least 27 people dead a day after a Sunni member of parliament was killed in a suicide bombing, amid a worsening political crisis engulfing Iraq.

The latest violence, the deadliest of which targeted Kurdish political party offices, comes with Nouri Al Maliki, the prime minister, facing several protests hardening opposition against his rule and calls for his ouster from many of his erstwhile government partners.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also left more than 220 people wounded, but Sunni militants often carry out waves of violence in a bid to destabilise the government and push the country back towards the sectarian violence that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.

Today's deadliest attack struck in the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, where two car bombs in the same neighbourhood killed at least 16 people and wounded 190 others.

The first blast was detonated by a suicide attacker during the morning rush hour and appeared to target a compound housing local offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani.

A second car bomb parked on the side of a road nearby detonated shortly thereafter, apparently targeting a KDP official.

Another suicide car bombing in the town of Tuz Khurmatu killed two people and wounded 26 others. The attack struck near the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani.

In Baghdad, three separate attacks left five people dead, officials said.

The latest attacks come a day after the killing of a Sunni Iraqi MP in a suicide attack west of Baghdad, with Ayfan Al Essawi's funeral expected to be held in Fallujah later today.

Al Essawi was a former leader of the Sahwa, a collection of Sunni tribal militias that turned against Al Qaeda and sided with the US military from late 2006, helping turn the tide of Iraq's insurgency.

Sahwa fighters are regularly targeted for attacks by Sunni militants who view them as traitors.