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Twin car bombs kill 11 in Baghdad

Eleven people have been killed in two separate car bomb explosions in a Shiite district of eastern Baghdad.

Violence has surged in Iraq amid an escalating political crisis a month after the US military withdrawal, police officials said.

A wave of bomb attacks has killed at least 170 people since the beginning of the year, many of whom were Shiite pilgrims attending religious commemorations. The last American soldiers left the country on December 18.

Suspected Sunni insurgents have frequently targeted Shiite communities and Iraqi security forces to undermine public confidence in the Shiite-dominated government and its efforts to protect people.

Tuesday's first attack targeted an early-morning gathering of day labourers in Baghdad's Sadr City. Police said eight were killed and another 21 injured.

Minutes later, an explosives-packed car blew up near a pastry shop in the same district, killing three civilians and wounding 26 others, police said. Hospital officials in Baghdad confirmed the death toll.

While insurgents have carried out a number of deadly attacks in recent years, there is little indication yet that the country is slipping back towards the widespread sectarian bloodshed of 2006 and 2007.

Nevertheless, these recent attacks are seen as particularly dangerous because they coincide with both the departure of US troops, as well as a political crisis pitting Shiite officials against the largest Sunni-backed bloc.

The political battle erupted last month after the Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against the Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, on terrorism charges, sending him into virtual exile in the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq.

In protest, Mr al-Hashemi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc has been boycotting parliament and Cabinet sessions, bringing government work to a standstill.


From Belfast Telegraph