Nearly 70 people were killed and dozens others wounded on Monday in a string of violent attacks around Iraq, one of the deadliest days in the country so far this year.
In the worst incident, two bombs exploded in a busy jewellery market in the city centre of Kut, killing at least 34 and injuring more than 50, officials said. Car bombs also detonated in the northern city of Kirkuk and Mansour district of Baghdad. Elsewhere, AK-47 wielding assailants targeted leaders in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.
The attacks came after a period of relative quiet in the country, which had descended as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began in early August. Lt. Col. Hachem Neama Abbas, an Iraqi army commander in Baghdad, said the military had been bracing for a new round of violence after the calm. The attacks, he said, are proof that insurgents still posed a threat to the country’s stability. They also raise questions about the government’s ability to maintain security as US troops prepare to leave the country by December.
“This wave of explosions and attacks is evidence that al Qaeda is still effective,” Abbas said. Iraq is debating whether or not to ask a small contingent of US forces to stay past the deadline, but no official request has been made yet, US officials have said.
The day’s worst violence happened in Kut, a large city in central Iraq about 150 miles from Baghdad. Insurgents detonated a bomb at about 8.30am in a crowded area near a jewellery market, according to Dhiaa Al Deen Al Aabudi, the city’s health director. About 10 minutes later, a car bomb detonated. In all, 34 people were killed and about 70 injured, some critically.
In Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, 13 people, including four army officers, were killed in a string of car bombs, explosives and shootings. A police official said he believed the commanders of the group Sons of Iraq were targeted by insurgents.
Elsewhere, at least two were killed in a series of bombings, and eight died in attacks on police facilities in Najaf and Karbala. Nine people died in Tikrit after two suicide bombings there, including one by a man dressed in a traffic police uniform who blew himself up at the main gate of the city’s counter-terrorism facility.
In Kirkuk, a bomb and an motorcycle rigged with explosives exploded outside a church, killing one.
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