21 killed in wave of Iraq attacks

January 19, 2014 - 6:32:31 am
BAGHDAD: Attacks across Baghdad, including car bombs at an upscale shopping mall and near a juvenile detention centre, killed 21 people yesterday as rising violence fuels fears of all-out sectarian war.

The bombings and a deadly, weeks-long standoff in the western province of Anbar, part of a nationwide surge in violence that has already killed more than 600 this month, come just months ahead of parliamentary elections.

Diplomats including UN chief Ban Ki-moon have urged authorities to pursue political reconciliation with disaffected Sunni Arabs to resolve the unrest, but the US has said it will provide training for Iraqi forces in a third country and would ship small arms to the country’s security forces.

Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has taken a hard line and ruled out dialogue with militants.

In Baghdad last evening, seven attacks — including six car bombs — killed at least 21 people and wounded more than 60 others, security and medical officials said.

One of the blasts went off near the glitzy new Mansur Mall, one of the capital’s most upscale shopping centres, where families and young people often meet in the evenings to go to the cinema or eat at Western-style restaurants.

At least five people were killed and 12 more were wounded.

The area was deserted after the attack as shoppers rushed out of the mall and quickly made their way home, while security forces imposed restrictions on movement in the area, barring cars from entering or leaving the district, journalists at the scene said.

Another car bomb in the Taubchi neighbourhood detonated near a juvenile detention centre, and conflicting reports of a prison break spurred the authorities to effectively shut down the area, a journalist said.

The blast killed five people and left 13 wounded, officials said.

An interior ministry official said 23 detainees managed to escape in the chaotic aftermath of the attack, but Iraqiya state TV said security forces managed to prevent the attempted jailbreak.

Bombs also went off near a bus station in Nahda, a bridge in Utaifiyah, while attacks struck the neighbourhoods of Amriyah, Jamiyah and Adel, killing 11 people in all.

Yesterday’s unrest was the latest in a long-running trend of attacks striking in the capital during the evening, when Baghdad’s residents often congregate at cafes, markets, restaurants and shops.

Violence also struck north of Baghdad. Twin blasts at a Kirkuk market killed three people, while gunmen badly wounded a journalist after stopping his car at an intersection in Baquba. The journalist managed to escape his car but was shot three times.