Dozens killed in wave of attacks across Iraq
BAGHDAD — A string of deadly explosions and other attacks shook Iraq on Thursday, with bombings in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk resulting in the most fatalities.
Overall, nearly three dozen people were killed and more than 100 wounded, according to security officials.
By the standards of Iraq — where attacks occur daily, although at a much diminished rate compared with the height of the war — the wave of violence Thursday was not extraordinary. But it was a reminder, after weeks of relative calm, that an organized insurgency remained active. A series of explosions in the village of Al-Malhaa, on the outskirts of Kirkuk, left nine people dead and 24 wounded, according to an official in Kirkuk, a city divided among three ethnic groups often at odds with one another: Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.
In Baghdad, nearly 15 people were killed in a handful of explosions, including one on Palestine Street aimed at the convoy of the minister of health, Majeed Hamad Amin. He was unharmed, but two bystanders were killed, an official said.
Some bombs were directed at Shiite Muslims, who make up the majority of Iraq’s population and are frequently the victims of what is left of the country’s Sunni insurgency and its main group, al-Qaida in Iraq. A hotel in Kadhimiya, a Baghdad neighborhood that is home to an important Shiite shrine, was struck by a car bomb. The attack killed two people at the hotel, where Shiite pilgrims from Iran often stay.
In Samarra, north of Baghdad, two car bombs hit a checkpoint guarded by members of a local Awakening group, part of the movement that is made up of former insurgents who were paid to switch sides under a program that was begun by the U.S. military. In that attack, three people were killed and six were wounded.
Several attacks also occurred in Diyala province, which is east of Baghdad and was the site of some of the worst carnage during Iraq’s sectarian war in 2006 and 2007. A suicide bomber struck the home of a military official, killing one person and wounding five others.
Nearly four months have passed since the withdrawal of the U.S. military, and despite the attacks Thursday, security has not deteriorated, as many analysts contended it would. By some Iraqi government measures, which have been widely reported by the news media, March was one of the least violent months since 2003, when the U.S.-led war began.
But according to statistics cited by the United Nations, violence has actually remained steady, and similar to the levels over the past three years. In March, according to those statistics, 294 people were killed in attacks, slightly higher than in February and comparable to many months last year.
While the security situation has been somewhat stable, the political situation has deteriorated in recent months. On Thursday, a dispute that pits the Shiite-led government against the country’s Kurdish minority appeared to be quickly escalating. Last year Kurdish authorities in the north entered their own exploration deal with Exxon Mobil, a pact that Baghdad has said is illegal.