Wave of bombings kills 25 in Iraq
In this , Aug. 25, 2007 file photo, people from Shabak, a Kurdish Shiite community in north Iraqi city of Mosul, join hands to hold an Iraqi flag in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometres south of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)
Sameer N. Yacoub, The Associated Press
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 6:51AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 17, 2012 2:05PM EST
BAGHDAD -- A wave of bombings hit ethnically disputed northern areas and other parts of Iraq on Monday, killing 25 people and wounding dozens.
The attacks deepen fears that militants are seeking to reignite ethnic and sectarian violence in the country, where tensions remain high over areas contested between the central government and Kurdish minority. Deadly violence also continues between the country's two dominant sects -- Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
The deadliest of Monday's attacks took place in al-Mouafaqiyah, a village inhabited by families from the Shabak ethnic group. Seven people were killed and 11 were wounded in the bombing, according to police officials.
The village lies near the city of Mosul, 360 kilometres (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, and is claimed by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds. The Shabak have their own distinct language and religious beliefs.
Elsewhere in the north, two car bombs went off in a majority Turkomen neighbourhood in the city of Tuz Khormato, killing five people and wounding 26, said Mohammed al-Asi, a spokesman for Salahuddin provincial council.
Like the area near the other attack, Tuz Khormato, about 210 kilometres (130 miles) north of Baghdad, has a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen competing for control of the city. He said that the targets in these two provinces were "carefully selected" as part of the efforts to undermine the national unity.
Tuz Khormato borders the autonomous Kurdish region. Last month, it was the scene of a shootout between Kurdish guards and Iraqi police that killed one civilian. The Iraqi military and Kurdish fighters responded by moving additional troops into disputed areas, raising the spectre of further clashes.
In a statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned specifically the attacks in the disputed areas, where he said targets were "carefully selected" to attempt to undermine national unity.
"The government will take whatever necessary measures to provide protection for all citizens, especially the targeted groups," al-Maliki said.
Also Monday, police said a roadside bomb hit a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims near Samarra, killing one Lebanese national and the Iraqi driver and wounding eight others, including five Lebanese. Also, a car bomb went off on a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims heading to Samarra, killing two, including an Iranian national.
Another car bomb went off in a commercial area in downtown Baghdad in the afternoon, killing three people and wounding 10, police and health officials said.
Shortly after sunset, a car bomb exploded near an open-air car market in northeastern Baghdad, killing six people and wounding 30 others, said police.
Medics in nearby hospitals confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
On Sunday, a series of attacks targeting two other cities in disputed northern areas left at least eight dead and dozens wounded.
It was unclear who was behind the latest violence, though Sunni Arab insurgents frequently use co-ordinated bomb attacks to try to undermine the Shiite-led government's authority.