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Baghdad attacks kill 24 as Iraq presses Anbar assault


BAGHDAD: A series of attacks in and around Baghdad, including a spate of car bombings, killed 24 people Monday as Iraqi forces pressed an assault against militant-held areas of Anbar province.
The latest bloodshed comes amid a surge in violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in January, the worst such figure in nearly six years, as security forces grapple with near-daily attacks and protracted battles with anti-government fighters.
Foreign leaders have urged the Shia-led government to do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority in a bid to undercut support for militants. But with parliamentary polls looming in less than three months, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line. Despite officials insisting operations against militants, including those affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, are having an impact, the bloodshed has continued unabated. In and around the capital on Monday, seven car bombs killed 20 people while authorities said they found the dumped bodies of three men and a woman. All were shot in the head and they appear to have been tortured. Seven people were killed in two separate car bombs – one of which was detonated by a suicide attacker – in the town of Mahmudiyah, just south of the capital. Thirteen others were killed by vehicles rigged with explosives in the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Baladiyat, Hurriyah, Sadr City and Dura.
The killings in particular are a reminder of Iraq’s brutal 2006-2007 Sunni-Shia sectarian war, when corpses were often found abandoned on the streets, with the victims bearing signs of torture. North of Baghdad in restive Diyala province, separate attacks on security forces left two soldiers dead, while bombings also struck in ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, wounding three people. 

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Aaj Kal