31 dead as car bombs rock Iraq
Although there have been no claims of responsibility for much of the unrest, officials see the hand of a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war raging in neighboring Syria.
Attacks struck across the country, from the northern hub of Mosul to Kut in the south. They cut down civilians as well as security forces in a wide variety of incidents targeting markets, bus stations, a funeral tent and the convoy of a top police official, security and medical sources said.
Another vehicle rigged with explosives targeted Salaheddin provincial police chief Major General Juma al-Dulaimi.
It killed three civilians and wounded two others.
A suicide car bombing at a police checkpoint near Samarra, also in Salaheddin, killed three police and wounded three more.
Two more car bombs in predominantly-Sunani Salaheddin and two others in Wasit, a mostly Shia province south of Baghdad, killed three people and wounded 15.
Also in Salaheddin, militants who set up a fake checkpoint gunned down six people — a senior official in Iraq’s identity card department and his wife, two policemen and two other civilians.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting a patrol of Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda-militiamen killed two people, one of them a Sahwa fighter, and two other bombs elsewhere in the capital killed four more.
Also on Thursday, shootings in the northern city of Mosul killed four people, including two members of the Yazidi religious sect.
Violence worsened sharply after security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23, sparking clashes in which dozens died.
The authorities have made some concessions aimed at placating the protesters and Sunnis in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sahwa fighters, and have also trumpeted security operations targeting militants.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council condemned the recent violence and voiced support for government efforts to tackle the bloodshed.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims and reaffirmed their support for the people and the government of Iraq, and their commitment to Iraq’s security,” a statement said.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki used a recent trip to Washington to push for greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems in a bid to combat militants.