Bombings kill at least 26 in Iraq

AP , Thursday 27 Feb 2014

A bomb hidden on a motorcycle exploded at a secondhand market in Iraq's capital, the deadliest of a series of bombings Thursday around Baghdad that killed at least 26 people, authorities said.

The motorcycle market blast struck Baghdad's sprawling eastern Sadr City district as night fell, killing at least 17 people and wounding 38, officials said. It appeared as though the motorcycle bomb had been slipped in among the other bikes on display, officials said.

Meanwhile, two other bombs struck across the capital targeting minibuses ferrying home laborers at the end of the workday. In Sadr City, officials said a bomb attached to a minibus exploded, killing five civilians and wounding 14. Another bomb stuck on a minibus killed four and wounded 11 in the northern Shaab neighborhood, authorities said.

A police officer and two medical officials confirmed casualty figures for the attacks. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to journalists.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but it bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently use car bombs and suicide attacks in their bid to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government. Such bombings have increased along with Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment and random arrests by the government.

Sadr City is predominantly Shiite.

Last year, Iraq saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year in Iraq.

Fierce clashes pitting government security forces and allied Sunni tribal militias against a coalition of insurgents also have been raging in Iraq's Anbar province since late December. An al-Qaeda offshoot and other insurgent groups have taken control of the city of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi. Thousands have fled the violence.

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