Echoes of past killings as 19 bodies found in Baghdad

The Syrian conflict has helped the revival of al-Qaeda in Iraq

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Iraqi authorities found the bodies of 19 people -- including a family of five -- shot dead in Baghdad Wednesday, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the country’s gruesome 2006-2007 sectarian massacres.

Another 16 people were killed in suicide bombings and other attacks early Wednesday, pushing the number of those slain so far this year above 6,000, as the country endures its worst spate of violence since 2008 just months ahead of general elections.

Although there have been no claims of responsibility for much of the unrest, authorities have voiced concern over a resurgent al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war raging in neighboring Syria.

Most of the violence struck Baghdad and Sunni Arab areas of northern and western Iraq, which have suffered the worst of the months-long spike in attacks.

In two separate areas of the capital, police found the bodies of 14 men, all in their 20s or 30s, and all shot dead, according to medical officials.

Eight of the corpses were found with blindfolds on in the mostly Sunni Dura neighborhood, while six others had been dumped in a canal in mostly Shiite Shuala.

At the peak of Iraq’s sectarian fighting, Sunni and Shiite militiamen would regularly carry out tit-for-tat kidnappings and leave scores of corpses littering the streets, many of them bound, blindfolded and showing signs of torture.

Violence in the capital, meanwhile, left nine people dead, including a family of five -- three men and two women -- who were shot dead in their home in the Hurriyah neighborhood in a pre-dawn attack, according to security and medical officials.

Shootings and bombings were also carried out in the western province of Anbar, and near the main northern city of Mosul, both of which are mostly Sunni Arab.

Two separate attacks involving multiple suicide bombers against police near Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killed at least five policemen and left 11 others wounded.

One of the attacks involved a car bomb set off by a suicide attacker on the western outskirts of the city, followed by a firefight between militants and police in which four suicide bombers blew themselves up.

Two policemen were killed and seven were wounded, but officials warned the toll from the 8:30 am (0530 GMT) attack could rise further.

A separate suicide bombing at a police station just north of the city killed two more policemen and left four wounded.

Ramadi is the capital of the western desert province of Anbar, which shares a long border with Syria. Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda have exploited the relative lack of security to set up training camps and carry out attacks on both sides of the frontier.

A shooting near Mosul, meanwhile, left two school teachers dead.

Iraq’s government has trumpeted wide-ranging security operations targeting militants, primarily in Sunni-majority areas in the north and west of the country, but the daily attacks have shown no sign of abating.

More than 6,000 people have been killed so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials.

Diplomats, analysts and rights groups say the government is not doing enough to address the root causes of the unrest, particularly disquiet among Sunnis over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki used a recent trip to Washington to push for greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems in a bid to combat militants, while France and Turkey have offered assistance.

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