Bombings against Kurds kill 18 as Iraq violence rages

BAGHDAD: A car bomb attack and a suicide blast Sunday killed 18 people at a Kurdish political party’s office north of Baghdad and 11 others died in other violence in Iraq.
Militants have launched major operations in multiple provinces in recent days, killing scores of people and highlighting both their long reach and the weakness of Iraqi security forces.
Iraq is suffering its worst violence in years, and with none of the myriad problems that contribute to the heightened unrest headed for quick resolutions, the bloodshed is likely to continue unabated.
In Sunday’s deadliest attack, a car bomb exploded near an office of President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party and a Kurdish security forces building in the town of Jalawla, north of Baghdad.
As emergency workers came to the scene, a suicide bomber detonated explosives, with the two blasts killing 18 people and wounding 67.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though suicide bombings are a tactic mainly employed by militants.
In the northern city of Mosul, where security forces have battled militants in days of heavy clashes, shelling hit three western areas, killing eight people and wounding three.
Three roadside bombs also killed a civilian and wounded three soldiers northwest of the city of Kirkuk.
And in Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in the Bayaa area, killing two police and wounding at least one more.
The violence followed a series of major operations by jihadists in recent days that have killed dozens of people.
On Saturday, militants took hundreds of hostages at Anbar University in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the last of whom were only freed in an assault by security forces that sparked hours of fighting.
And a series of blasts in Baghdad on Saturday night killed at least 25 more people.
In Mosul, heavy fighting broke out on Friday and continued into the following day. The clashes, combined with other attacks in the surrounding Nineveh province, killed more than 100 people.
And on Thursday, militants travelling in dozens of vehicles, some mounted with anti-aircraft guns, attacked the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, and occupied multiple areas.
They were only dislodged after heavy house-to-house fighting and helicopter strikes, during which officials said 12 police and dozens of militants were killed.
Violence is running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shia majority and Sunni Arab minority.
More than 900 people were killed last month, according to figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government.
So far this year, more than 4,600 people have been killed, according to AFP figures.
Officials blame external factors for the rising bloodshed, particularly the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
But analysts say widespread Sunni Arab anger with the Shia-led government has also been a major factor. 

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