BEIRUT

Middle East

Five car bombs in Baghdad kill 26: police, medics

Residents gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad July 19, 2014. A series of car bombs struck Baghdad on Saturday, killing 22 people, police and medics said. REUTERS/Ahmed Malik

BAGHDAD: Five car bombs killed 26 people in mostly Shiite Muslim neighbourhoods in Baghdad Saturday, police and medics said.

The first explosion, a suicide car bombing, killed seven people at a police checkpoint in the Abu Dsheer district in the south of the capital, the sources said.

Four other car bombs killed a total of 19 people: one in the Bayaa district in southwestern Baghdad, one in the western district of Jihad and two in northern Baghdad's Kadhimiya, which boasts a major Shiite shrine.

The army and allied Shiite militia are trying to push back Sunni insurgents who swept through northern Iraq last month to within 70 km (45 miles) of Baghdad.

Militants fought off an army offensive to retake the northern city of Tikrit on Tuesday. The army was forced to pull back south of the city on the banks of the Tigris.

The fighting has exacerbated a political crisis in Baghdad, where Shi'ite caretaker Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to form a government in the face of opposition from Sunnis, Kurds and some Shiites, three months after Iraq held a parliamentary election.

Iraq's Shiite authorities as well as Western powers have pressed politicians to overcome their deadlock and agree a new unity government to help tackle the insurgency and prevent Iraq from splitting down ethnic and sectarian lines.

 

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