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Dozens die in attacks across Iraq

Insurgents bent on destabilising Iraq have killed at least 41 people in numerous attacks scattered around the country, striking targets including a coffee shop, a wedding party convoy and a carload of off-duty soldiers.

The attacks are part of a months-long wave of killing that is the country's worst spate of bloodshed since 2008.

The violence is calling into question the security forces' ability to protect the country and raising fears that Iraq's sectarian and ethnic divisions are pushing it back towards the brink of civil war.

One of the day's boldest attacks happened near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where militants set up a fake security checkpoint, captured five soldiers and shot them dead, said a police officer. The soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and returning to base in a taxi.

Inside Mosul, other gunmen in a speeding car shot and killed a grocer, he said, though the motive was not immediately clear. The grocer was a member of the Shabak ethnic group, which has its own distinct language and religious beliefs. Mosul, a former insurgent stronghold, is about 360 kilometres (220 miles) north-west of Baghdad.

Another police officer said a car bomb exploded as a judge drove past in the northern town of Balad, killing three nurses and a man who had been walking nearby. Thirteen other people were wounded, including the judge, his brother and a driver, he added.

In the town of Madain, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) south-east of Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed four and wounded 12, another police officer said. Authorities reported that another bomb there struck a group of young people playing football, killing four and wounding 13.

Multiple blasts hit the city of Baqouba, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) north-east of Baghdad. Police said one bomb exploded near a police officer's house, killing his eight-year-old son and wounding 11 other people. The police officer was unharmed. Later in the day, a parked car bomb went off in a residential area in the city, killing seven and wounding 34. Yet another bomb exploded next to a wedding party convoy, killing four and wounding 17, police said.

In the capital Baghdad, a car bomb at a market in the south-eastern and largely Shiite neighbourhood of al-Ameen killed three civilians and wounded 13 others, authorities said. Three other civilians were killed and six wounded when a bomb attached to a car exploded while passing through the capital's eastern Zayona neighbourhood, police said. Another bomb went off in a commercial area in the western Ghazaliya area, killing two people and wounding seven others, officials said.

Later in the evening, police said a bomb tore through a coffee shop, killing three and wounding 16 others in Baghdad's northern Shaab neighbourhood.


From Belfast Telegraph