Middle East

Baghdad election rally blasts kill 28: ministry

An explosion is seen during a car bomb attack at a Shi'ite political organisation's rally in Baghdad, April 25, 2014. (REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

BAGHDAD: Twin bombings at a Shiite political party's rally in Baghdad killed 28 people on Friday, a security spokesman said, just days before nationwide parliamentary elections.

A car bomb followed by a suicide attack hit the campaign rally for the Sadiqun bloc, the political wing of the Asaib Ahel al-Haq militia, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said.

Dozens more were wounded, he added.

The blasts came at around 5:30 pm (1430 GMT) near the Al-Qanat highway through eastern and northern Baghdad. Apparently Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahel al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, was present.

The rally came with campaigning at a fever pitch ahead of Wednesday's polls, Iraq's first since March 2010 and its first national elections since US forces withdrew in late 2011.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is seeking a third term in office, with violence at its worst since 2008 and the country still looking to rebuild after decades of conflict and sanctions that ravaged the economy and infrastructure.

A number of Shiite blocs are battling Maliki for votes in his traditional heartland of central and southern Iraq.

They include Sadiqun but also the Ahrar movement, which is linked to powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the Citizens bloc, a formerly powerful political group seen as close to Iran.





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