July deadliest month of 2013 for Iraq

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Attacks mainly targeting Iraqi security forces killed 16 people on Tuesday, officials said, bringing July’s death toll to 626, the highest monthly figure in a year marked by spiraling violence.

Another 1,395 people were wounded through July 23, according to AFP figures based on reports from security and medical sources.

The second-deadliest month of the year so far was May, when 614 people died in attacks and 1,550 were wounded. More than 2,800 people have been killed so far in 2013.

Much of the violence on Tuesday was centered in northern Iraq.

In Nineveh province, four kidnapped police were found shot dead, and gunmen also killed a prison guard, a barber and three traders from Baghdad in a sheep market.

Kirkuk province was also hit by attacks that killed two anti-Qaeda militiamen, a Kurdish security force member and an unknown man, and wounded a policeman.

A bombing killed one person and wounded another near the Diyala provincial capital Baquba, while gunmen killed two police and wounded five in an attack on a checkpoint near the northern town of Baiji.

The violence came as Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed brazen assaults on two prisons in Iraq that killed more than 40 people and saw hundreds of inmates, including senior militants, escape.

Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority that the government has failed to address has fuelled the surge in unrest this year.

Sunni Arabs accuse the Shiite-led government of marginalizing and targeting their community, including through unwarranted arrests and terrorism charges.

Protests broke out in Sunni-majority areas at the end of 2012 and are still ongoing.

On April 23, security forces moved against protesters near the northern town of Hawijah, sparking clashes that killed 53 people and sending tensions soaring.

More than 450 people have been killed each month since April.

In addition to security problems, the government in Baghdad is also failing to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, and corruption is widespread.

Political squabbling has paralyzed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.

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