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Iraq violence kills 19

AFP , Tuesday 25 Mar 2014
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Violence across Iraq killed 19 people on Tuesday, including eight who died in an attack on an army patrol, amid Iraq's worst protracted period of unrest since 2008.

The bloodshed comes just weeks before Iraq is due to hold its first national vote since 2010, though the poll was thrown into disarray earlier Tuesday when the entire electoral commission resigned over political interference.

The surge of unrest in recent months has been principally driven by anger in the Sunni Arab minority, which alleges mistreatment by the Shiite-led government and security forces, as well as by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

In Tuesday's deadliest attack, militants opened fire on an army patrol in Tarmiyah, just north of the capital, security and medical officials said.

Eight people were killed, including seven soldiers. Another 14, of whom 10 were soldiers, were wounded.

Tarmiyah is a primarily Sunni Arab town 45 kilometres (30 miles) from Baghdad that is frequently hit by deadly violence, ranging from shootings to massive bombings.

Attacks elsewhere in the country, all in predominantly Sunni areas, killed 11 people.

In Baghdad, a car bomb near a mosque in the Saidiyah neighbourhood killed three people and wounded eight others.

Gun attacks and explosions in and around the restive cities of Baquba, Mosul and Tikrit -- all north of the capital -- left eight others dead. Among them were three policemen and a woman working in the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's political coalition.

No group has claimed responsibility for most of the recent rise in bloodshed, but Sunni militants, including those linked to the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group, are typically blamed.

More than 400 people have been killed so far this month and upwards of 2,100 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on reports from security and medical sources.

Analysts and diplomats have called for the Shiite-led authorities to do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni minority in a bid to reduce support for militancy, but with the April 30 election looming, political leaders have been loath to be seen to compromise.

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