Dozens of attacks across Iraq, including a brazen car bombing on the way to Baghdad airport, killed 46 people on Monday, just days before the country’s first elections since US troops withdrew.
The violence, which mostly struck during morning rush hour amid tightened security ahead of the polls, also wounded more than 270 people and raises further questions about the credibility of the April 20 vote, seen as a key test of Iraq’s stability and its security forces’ capabilities.
A total of 14 election hopefuls have already been murdered and just 12 of the country’s 18 provinces will be taking part in the vote.
Officials said bombings hit 12 different areas of Iraq, leaving 46 dead and making Monday the country’s deadliest day since March 19. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently attack both government targets and civilians in a bid to destabilise the country, and have reportedly sought to intimidate candidates and election officials ahead of polling.
The deadliest attacks were in Baghdad, where eight bombings struck in seven neighbourhoods across the capital despite tougher checkpoint searches and heightened security.
Among them was a car bomb in a parking area used by vehicles making their way to Baghdad’s heavily-guarded airport, a rare bombing on the road famously known as “Route Irish”. The airport road was once referred to by American forces as “RPG alley” for the high numbers of attacks along it but has since become far more secure.