19 killed in Iraq attacks ahead of Ramadan end

AFP , Thursday 16 Aug 2012

At least 19 people were killed during a wave of 15 explosions across the domestically-unstable Iraq as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan approaches its end

Security personnel inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, August 16, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

A wave of attacks across Iraq on Thursday killed at least 19 people, as an analyst warned of a potential escalation in violence to coincide with the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Officials reported more than 100 people were wounded in 15 explosions, including seven car bombs, a suicide attack, and a shooting, in nine cities and towns nationwide, a day after attacks left 13 people dead.

The latest unrest takes the overall death toll from violence this month to 164, with the worst of Thursday's violence striking Baghdad and the northern town of Daquq, with six people dying in each attack.

In the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Husseiniyah, a car bomb killed at least six people and wounded 26, according to an interior ministry official and a medical source.

Meanwhile in the town of Daquq, north of Baghdad in Kirkuk province, a suicide attacker killed six policemen and wounded 25 people when he blew himself up at an anti-terrorism department's compound, according to provincial police Brigadier General Sarhad Qader.

Attacks also struck Al-Garma, Kirkuk city, Tuz Khurmatu, Dibis, Mosul, Taji and Baquba, leaving seven dead and dozens wounded.

In Al-Garma, near the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah west of Baghdad, four policemen were killed and three others wounded in a shooting at a checkpoint, according to police Major Enes Mahmud and Dr Omar Dalli at Fallujah hospital.

As emergency responders and civilians rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, wounding three others.

In the disputed, ethnically-mixed northern city of Kirkuk, four car bombs exploded within 45 minutes, killing one person and wounding 20 others, according to a police official and Dr Karim Wali at the city's main hospital.

Among those wounded were an unspecified number of security forces members, the officials said.

Three roadside bombs exploded in Tuz Khurmatu near the home of a district chief, or mukhtar, killing his wife and leaving him and his three sons wounded, according to police and a local medic.

In Dibis, two roadside bombs near the home of a police captain killed his brother and wounded four others, including the captain himself, police and a doctor at nearby Kirkuk hospital said.

Explosions in Mosul, Taji and on the outskirts of Baquba -- a magnetic "sticky bomb attached to a vehicle" and two separate car bombs -- left 18 others wounded, security and medical officials said.

A day earlier, 13 people were killed in attacks north of Baghdad.

On Monday, British security firm AKE Group warned that "terrorists in Iraq may be planning mass casualty explosive attacks against large gatherings of civilians to mark the end of Ramadan later this week."

"We haven't received any specific intelligence on the matter but they (insurgents) may be 'saving up' their willing bombers for the closing period of the month, due around 17-18 August," AKE analyst John Drake said.

The 164 people killed this month include at least 76 security force members, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical sources.

While violence has decreased from its peak in 2006 and 2007, attacks remain common across Iraq. There were attacks on 27 of the 31 days in July, and there has been at least one shooting or bombing every day this month.

Official figures put the number of people killed in attacks in July at 325, the highest monthly death toll since August 2010.

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