Middle East

Attacks kill 16 in Iraq as May death toll tops 900

This Feb. 2, 2014, file photo shows Iraqi Security forces preparing to attack Al-Qaeda positions in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo, File)

BAGHDAD: Attacks across Iraq killed 16 people Sunday, while new figures showed violence last month claimed more than 900 lives as the country grapples with its worst bloodshed in years.

Data compiled separately by the United Nations and the Iraqi defense, interior and health ministries showed that unrest was near its worst since 2008, when it was slowly emerging from a brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian war.

The latest bloodletting comes as political leaders jostle to build alliances during what is expected to be a protracted period of government formation following April elections.

The worst of Sunday’s violence targeted security forces north of Baghdad, in the restive provinces of Salaheddin, Diyala and Nineveh.

In the single deadliest attack, five off-duty soldiers riding a taxi between Baiji and Samarra, in Salaheddin, were ambushed by militants who freed the vehicle’s driver but proceeded to kill all the soldiers.

Elsewhere in the province, three soldiers and a policeman were killed in separate roadside bombs.

In the main northern city of Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province, four others died in a series of shootings and bombings, while a policeman was killed in Muqdadiyah, Diyala province.

Two teachers were also shot dead in Baghdad, officials said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the violence, but Sunni militants, including those linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Grearer Syria (ISIS) jihadist group, frequently target the security forces, ostensibly in a bid to destabilize Iraq and undermine public confidence in them.

The violence came as new figures were published Sunday showing violence is near its highest in years.

According to the U.N.’s mission to Iraq, at least 799 Iraqis were killed in “acts of terrorism” and other violence, while a further 195 died as a result of military operations in the province of Anbar, in western Iraq.

Separate figures released by Iraqi ministries, meanwhile, put the toll at 938 killed, including 804 civilians, and 1,463 wounded.

“I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence ... that continues rocking the country,” U.N. special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement. “I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated timeframe and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar.”

The month’s deadliest bloodshed struck on May 28, when 78 people were killed in a series of attacks nationwide, the bloodiest of which hit Baghdad and Mosul.





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