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Car bombs kill at least 25 people in Iraqi capital

15 January, 2014

BAGHDAD: Four car bombs killed at least 25 people in Shia Muslim districts of Baghdad on Monday, police said, in violence that coincided with a visit to the Iraqi capital by UN. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Although no group claimed responsibility, the bombings appeared to be part of a relentless campaign by al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim militants to undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government. The deadliest attack occurred in the mainly Shia neighbourhood of Shaab in eastern Baghdad where a car bomb exploded in a commercial area, killing 11 people and wounding 28.

Police said 76 people had been wounded in the four attacks, which occurred in the evening when many people were out in the streets on a public holiday to mark the Prophet Mohammad's birthday. Gunmen also attacked a checkpoint in southern Baghdad, killing three policemen and wounding four, police said.

Last year was Iraq's bloodiest since 2008, with nearly 9,000 people killed, according to UN figures. Ban told a news conference after talks with Maliki that he was concerned about the spiralling bloodshed and urged Iraqi leaders to deal with its underlying causes.

"There should be political cohesion, social cohesion and political dialogue, inclusive dialogue," Ban said. On Jan. 1, Sunni militants overran the western cities of Falluja and Ramadi in a bold challenge to the government, alarming the United States, whose troops fought fierce battles with insurgents in Falluja in 2004.

Militants in central Falluja fired mortars at an army base outside the city on Monday and soldiers fired four shells back, killing two people and wounding eight, police and hospital sources said. There was no word on any army casualties.

Government officials trace the resurgence of Islamist militancy in Iraq to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, where al Qaeda branches have emerged as a powerful force among rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.


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