Two Blasts and a Suicide Attack Kill 17 People in Baghdad
Three blasts, including a suicide attack near an army base, killed least 17 people across Baghdad on Tuesday, the latest violence to feed worries that Iraq’s unrest may slide into widespread sectarian confrontation.
Insurgent bombers are seeking to enflame tensions as Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces increasing pressure from mass Sunni Muslim protests and a separate dispute with the country’s autonomous Kurdistan region over the control of oil.
The most deadly explosion took place in Taji, 20 km north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least seven people and wounding 24.
Another parked car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the Shi’ite neighborhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing five people and wounded 13, police and hospital sources said.
In Mahmudiya, a town 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, a car bomb attack near an army checkpoint killed five people, including two soldiers and wounded 14 more.
The Shi’ite premier is trying to ease Sunni protests that erupted a month ago after officials arrested members of a Sunni finance minister’s security team on terrorism charges. Sunni leaders saw that move as a crackdown.
Maliki has appointed senior Shi’ite figure Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani to investigate the protesters’ demands. Authorities said on Tuesday they had so far released more than 800 detainees unjustly held or whose sentences had ended.
Sunni leaders want the modification of anti-terrorism laws and more control over a campaign against former members of Saddam’s outlawed Baath party, both measures they believe unfairly target their minority community.
The unrest is fanning concerns the conflict in neighboring Syria will upset Iraq’s own delicate ethnic and sectarian balance. More hardline Sunni Islamists want Maliki to step down or even the establishment of an autonomous Iraqi Sunni region.
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