Twenty-two people were killed, seven of them in a car bombing west of Baghdad, as a spate of attacks hit Iraq on Monday just days before US troops must leave Iraq’s cities. Seventy-six people were wounded in the attacks. Security and hospital officials said the dead included three Iraqi soldiers, three university students on their way to sit their final exams, and a four-year-old child.
The car bomb, which also wounded 13 people, targeted municipal offices in Abu Ghraib, a town on Baghdad’s western outskirts notorious as the site of the the 2006 scandal over abuse of prisoners by US jailers, defence and interior ministry officials said.
The predominantly Sunni Arab town was once a bastion of Al-Qaida, but the jihadists have since been beaten back by Sunni groups allied with US forces and the Iraqi government. In Baghdad’s sprawling Shiite slum neighbourhood of Sadr City, a roadside bomb hit a minibus, killing three students on their way to sit 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 Iraqi 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 northeast of Baghdad, a former Al-Qaeda 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, in northeast 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 runup 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.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned earlier this month that insurgents and militiamen were likely to 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 truck bombing in the predominantly Shiite Turkmen town of Taza Kharmatu near the northern oil hub of Kirkuk.