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22 die in Iraq blasts and shootings

Bombings and shootings around Iraq killed 22 people and wounded more than 50 today, authorities said.

The attacks in Shiite neighbourhoods and on security forces underscore how deadly Iraq remains, even though violence has dropped dramatically since a few years ago when the country appeared about to descend into civil war. Over the last month, more than 200 Iraqis have been killed in attacks.

Today's deadliest strike came around 9:30 am in a Shiite neighbourhood in western Baghdad, where eyewitnesses said a taxi exploded outside a local market. Eight people died and 26 were injured, officials said.

Bombings generally are a hallmark of Sunni Muslim insurgents linked to al Qaida, and Shiites remain one of their main targets.

Earlier today, a roadside bomb in a Shiite neighbourhood in southern Baghdad exploded as a police patrol was passing by, killing one person and wounding six. Two more attacks on Shiite enclaves in north-west Baghdad wounded five more people, police said.

And in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province 115 kilometres (70 miles) west of Baghdad, another car bomb wounded seven people in the car park of the provincial council.

Baghdad operations command spokesman Col. Dhia al-Wakil said no overall conclusion about Iraq's security can be drawn from the attacks, which he said are believed to be unrelated. He described Iraq's security as "generally stable".

In the Sunni city of Taji, just north of Baghdad, two cars parked about 100 metres apart from each other exploded outside the office of the local mayor at dawn, police said. The blast killed five people and wounded 18, leaving craters in nearby homes.

In the troubled province of Diyala, gunmen walked into a butcher's shop in the provincial capital of Baqouba and shot dead two former Sunni militiamen who fought against al Qaida. A separate attack on a checkpoint killed two more militia members and two police.

Gunmen in two cars also opened fire on a checkpoint in Baqouba, north-east of Baghdad, killing two police officers and two Sahwa militiamen. Two more Sahwa members were shot and killed while manning a checkpoint in the central city of Samarra.


From Belfast Telegraph