At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when insurgents launched attacks in central and northern Iraq on Thursday, the latest wave of scattered but persistent strikes aimed at undermining the government’s authority.
More than 100 people have been killed in violence across the country since the August beginning, showing that insurgents led by al-Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last U.S. troops left the country.
Thursday’s carnage began with a predawn attack against the house of a military officer. Militants planted four bombs around his house near the northern city of Kirkuk, according to the city’s police commander Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir. The officer escaped unharmed, but his brother was killed and six other family members were wounded.
Another attack was a parked car bomb targeting a police patrol, injuring two policemen and two civilian bystanders.
A couple of hours later, two car bombs exploded simultaneously in a parking lot near a complex of government offices in the city’s north, injuring four people.
Kirkuk, 290 kilometres north of Baghdad, is home to a combustible mix of Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkomen. They all claim rights to the city and the oil-rich lands around it.
In Baghdad’s northeastern and mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, a parked car erupted in an explosion that killed seven people. Another 31 people were injured, two police officers said.
Just north of the capital, in the Sunni city of Taji, yet another parked car bomb went off next to a passing police patrol, killing two civilians who were standing nearby. Seven people, including police and civilian bystanders, were wounded, police said.
Some 65 kilometres west of Baghdad, militants in speeding cars opened fire on a police patrol in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, killing four policemen and injuring three others, a police officer said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida’s Iraqi branch. It has said that it aims to reclaim areas from which it was routed by the U.S. and its local allies.
The violence comes a day after militants staged attacks in northern Iraq that left 13 people dead, including 10 killed when bombs exploded shortly before the sunset meal that ends the daylong fast during the holy month of Ramdan.
Iraq has recently seen an increase in attacks, raising fears about a return of the violence that peaked in 2006 and 2007 when thousands were killed in the country’s sectarian war.
At least 325 people were killed in attacks in Iraq in July, making it the highest monthly toll since August 2010, according to government figures.