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Iraq attacks kill 56 during Shiite commemoration

world Updated: Jun 14, 2012 08:08 IST

AFP
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A wave of bombings and shootings rocked Iraq during a major Shiite religious commemoration on Wednesday, killing at least 56 people and wounded dozens more, security and medical officials said.

The attacks are the deadliest to hit Iraq since 68 people were killed in Iraq on January 5, and come during commemorations for the death of Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, which peak later this month.

Two car bombs in the central Iraq city of Hilla killed 19 people and wounded 48 others, according to a police captain and doctor Ali al-Khafaji in the city's hospital.

At least 19 people also died in the Baghdad area in a spate of 10 bombings and two shootings which also left dozens of people wounded, a medical official and an official from the interior ministry said.

The attacks included one in Karrada in central Baghdad that killed 16 people and wounded 32 others, according to the medical official.

The attack, which the interior ministry official said was a car bomb, appeared aimed at Shiite pilgrims, tens of thousands of whom are flocking to the Imam Kadhim shrine in the Kadhimiyah area of north Baghdad.

The bomb exploded in an area where pilgrims were eating breakfast in tents.

Human remains were scattered across the street, while cars and shops in the area were damaged, an AFP photographer said.

Nine people, meanwhile, were killed in a wave of attacks in Baquba, north of Baghdad.

"There was a series of attacks with nine roadside bombs in different areas on the outskirts of Baquba, which killed four people and wounded seven," a police colonel said.

Gunmen also attacked a house north of Baquba, killing a father and wounding his wife and three children, while a car bomb against a police patrol in the city wounded four police, the colonel said.

A medical source in Baquba hospital confirmed the toll.

Another car bomb, two roadside bombs and two shootings killed four more people and wounded at least 30 in Baquba, according to an army lieutenant colonel and doctor Ahmed Ibrahim from Baquba General Hospital.

And in the north Iraq city of Kirkuk, three car bombs killed at least two people and wounded at least 17 more, the interior ministry official and doctor Nabil Hamdi Mushnaq from Kirkuk hospital said.

In Balad, north of Baghdad, five people were killed and 30 wounded in two car bombs, a police lieutenant colonel said.

The toll was confirmed by a local government official, who said one of the car bombs exploded near the local headquarters of the Shiite endowment.

A car bomb in Al-Azizyah, south of Baghdad, killed two people and wounded at least two others, a police captain and a medical source said.

And a car bomb 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Karbala in central Iraq wounded 24 people, a health ministry official said.

Another car bomb in the restive north Iraq city of Mosul wounded three people, a police second lieutenant and a medical source at the Hamdaniyah hospital said.

The Shiite majority in Iraq have been a main target of Sunni Arab armed groups since the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled now executed dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime.

Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since its peak in 2006-2007, but attacks remain common, especially in Baghdad. A total of 132 Iraqis were killed in violence in May, official figures show.

Wednesday's attacks come during a political row that has seen opponents of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki mounting an attempt to oust him, but failing due to lack of numbers.

Maliki's opponents have for months accused him of monopolising decision-making and building an army loyal only to him.