Iraq attacks kill 15 as polls loom

April 27, 2014 - 4:50:46 am
An employee stacks ballot boxes ahead of elections in Arbil yesterday.

BAGHDAD: Attacks in Iraq killed 15 people yesterday in the run-up to next week’s first parliamentary election since US troops withdrew, with violence at its worst in years.

Shootings and blasts in the capital came a day after a twin bombing by a jihadist group on a Shiite political rally there killed 36 people, the deadliest single attack during campaigning for Wednesday’s polls.

Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is seeking a third term on Wednesday, with voters citing a long list of grievances ranging from poor electricity and sewerage services to rampant corruption and high unemployment.

A bomb inside a central Baghdad cafe killed three people on Saturday, and gunmen killed four others in shootings around the capital, security and medical officials said.

In Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, a series of attacks left eight people dead. In one incident, gunmen killed four soldiers, while militants elsewhere in the province killed a provincial councillor and three of his guards.

Also in Salaheddin, insurgents detonated bombs at two polling centres but did not cause any casualties. A police officer said at least two of the Baghdad assassinations appeared to be revenge attacks for Friday’s twin bombings targeting the political rally.

Friday evening’s car bomb followed by a suicide attack hit a rally for the Sadiqun bloc, the political wing of the Asaib Ahel Al Haq (League of the Righteous) militia, killing 36 people.

The League of the Righteous, a Shia militia previously blamed for killing US soldiers and kidnapping Britons, has been linked to groups fighting mostly Sunni rebels in Syria, whose civil war has split the Middle East’s sectarian communities, particularly in multi-confessional Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed the attack, saying it wanted to avenge the League’s involvement in neighbouring Syria. ISIL, itself fighting in Syria, made the claim in a statement on jihadist forums hours after the attack.

Iraqis will vote with no sign of a let-up in the violence, and the country still needing to rebuild after decades of conflict and sanctions. Several Shia blocs are competing with Maliki for votes in his traditional heartland of central and southern Iraq. AFP

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