Bombs hit Iraq checkpoint, funeral and soccer field

BAGHDAD — Bombs in Iraq targeting a checkpoint run by government-allied Sunni militiamen, a Shiite tribal leader's funeral and a soccer field killed at least 19 people Friday, in the latest strikes by militants seeking to destabilize the country.

Iraq is in the midst of its deadliest and most sustained wave of violence since 2008, raising fears the nation is returning to the widespread sectarian-charged bloodshed that pushed it to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007. More than 2,000 people have been killed in bombings and other attacks since the start of April.

The deadliest attack, which killed at least 11 people, occurred at the militia checkpoint shortly before midday in the village of Zangoura, just south of the former insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, police said.

The checkpoint was staffed by Sunni militiamen who joined forces with U.S. troops to fight Al Qaeda during the Iraq war. They remain on the Shiite-led central government's payroll, making them an occasional target for Sunni insurgents who consider them traitors.

One bomb, apparently planted by the side of the road, was the source of the initial blast. A second detonated as villagers rushed to help the victims of the first explosion, police said.

In the town of Dujail, north of the capital, Baghdad, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a tent set up to welcome mourners at the funeral of a local Shiite tribal leader.

Dujail Mayor Naif Khazraji and Ali Haidari, a senior security official in the town, said the blast killed at least four people and wounded four others. Khazraji said those killed included a police captain who tried to shoot the bomber before he detonated his explosives.

Dujail is a predominantly Shiite town surrounded by mostly Sunni communities.

Shortly after sunset, police said, a bomb went off near a soccer field in the Shiite-majority town of Madain, just south of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 15.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Police and hospital officials confirmed the casualties. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Earlier Friday, Iraqi officials raised the death toll from a series of bombings late Thursday that targeted soccer fans watching the Confederations Cup semifinal between Spain and Italy in cafes in and around Baghdad. They put the number of dead at 36.


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