Middle East

Attacks around Iraq's capital kill 29 people

People gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Sadr City district of Baghdad May 15, 2014. Seven people are killed when a car bomb exploded in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks in the capital and across Iraq that left close to 20 people dead, police said. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili

BAGHDAD: Bombings and shootings around Iraq's capital, including an attack involving militants using a fake checkpoint to kill army officers, killed at least 29 people and wounded dozens Thursday, officials said.

Police said gunmen shot dead the five off-duty army officers after stopping their car on a road just north of Baghdad. They said gunmen ordered the officers, who held ranks from lieutenant to colonel, out of the car and then shot them.

Militants have used fake checkpoints, as well as stolen police and military vehicles, to launch attacks in the past.

The day's first explosion came from a bomb-laden car left in a parking lot in Karrada, a busy commercial area home to several government offices, as well as courts and a hospital. The explosion killed four civilians and three police officers and wounded 21, a police officer said.

A few minutes later, a suicide bomber with an explosives belt blew himself up at the main gate of an office affiliated with the Higher Education Ministry, killing two police officers and two civilians, the police officer said. The attack wounded 12, he said.

Shortly before nightfall, police said a car bomb near an outdoor market killed eight people and wounded 17 in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City.

Meanwhile, police said gunmen stormed the house of an anti-al-Qaida Sunni fighter in the town of Youssifiyah, killing the Sunni fighter along with his wife, son, sister and a cousin. Youssifiyah is 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad.

Insurgents frequently attack members of the Sunni militia, known also as Sahwa, which joined forces with U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq war to fight al-Qaida.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for the attacks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

Since last year, Iraq has been seeing the worst level of violence since the nation emerged from the Shiite-Sunni bloodletting in 2008. The United Nations says violence killed 8,868 people in 2013, and killed more than 1,400 people in January and February of this year.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks, which came two days after a series of car bombings rocked the capital and killed at least 34 people. That was the bloodiest day in Iraq since April 28, when militant strikes on polling stations and other targets killed 46.

The attacks come nearly two weeks after Iraqis cast ballots in the country's first parliamentary election since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011. No preliminary results have yet been released, deepening a sense of uncertainty in a country strained by a resurgence of violence.





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