Bombings in Iraq leave at least 70 dead
BAGHDAD — Bombings in Iraq near a Sunni Muslim mosque, a busy shopping street and a funeral procession left at least 70 people dead Friday as the security situation continued to show signs of unraveling.
The explosions brought the week’s death toll to more than 110. That followed the killing of 712 people in April, which according to the United Nations was the deadliest month in Iraq since June 2008.
The bloodshed has increased as the country undergoes its biggest political test since the departure of U.S. troops in late 2011. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s policies and dominance have alienated Kurdish and Sunni Arab political parties as well as rival groups of fellow Shiites. The nation’s Sunni minority for four months has mounted antigovernment protests.
The war in neighboring Syria has only complicated Iraq’s domestic disputes.
Sectarian tension among Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni elite has soared in the absence of compromise on the issues raised by Sunni protesters, including resolving the fate of thousands of Sunni detainees and addressing the continued marginalization of those who served in late dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
The specter of the country’s de facto breakup through war or a negotiated settlement is openly discussed by politicians, and people fear a return to the civil war that plagued the country for several years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Carnage like Friday’s only feeds the impression that the country has taken a turn for the worse.
In the city of Baqubah, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, a pair of bombs exploded outside a Sunni mosque as worshipers exited after Friday afternoon prayers, leaving at least 43 people dead and 57 wounded, police and medical sources said.
Local television channels showed people checking on seven or eight men covered with blood and lying on the ground as police vehicles evacuated the wounded from the street.
Ahmed Kamil, a teacher, said he had left the prayer service when he heard the first bomb; he then rushed back to help. “The second [bomb] exploded almost in the same place, and I found myself wounded and among several corpses,” Kamil said.
In the west Baghdad neighborhood of Amariya, 19 people were killed and 33 wounded when two roadside bombs exploded in the district’s main shopping street, police and hospital sources said.
The area has been blighted by a spate of assassinations and a suicide bombing in a coffee shop last month that killed more than 30 people. Residents of the Sunni district once more live in fear comparable to the chaos of 2006, when the group Al Qaeda in Iraq ruled the district.
South of Baghdad, a funeral procession in Salman Pak for a person killed in a bombing Thursday in Baghdad was struck by a roadside bomb that left eight people dead and 28 wounded, according to security sources.
[Updated 1:53 p.m. PST, May 17: Another bomb in a two-story coffee shop in the city of Fallouja, west of Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 18, police said.]
In Baghdad, meanwhile, 12 people were wounded in a roadside bombing that targeted the funeral of a Sunni cleric who also was killed Thursday in Baghdad, police and hospital sources said.
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