Dozens die in surge of violence in Iraq


A series of blasts and shootings rocked Iraq leaving at least 35 people dead, officials said on Friday, as security forces imposed a tight cordon around the scene of twin bombings in Baghdad.

The double roadside bombing in Baghdad’s Urr neighborhood Thursday evening, in which at least 32 people died and 71 were wounded, marked the deadliest violence in the country since August.

One bomb exploded at around 7:00 pm on Thursday followed by a second after security forces and crowds gathered at the scene, witnesses said.

Officials had given initial tolls of at least 10 dead and 32 wounded but revised them dramatically upwards on Friday.

The death toll marks the highest from an attack in Iraq since August 15, when twin bombings in the southern city of Kut, blamed on al-Qaeda, killed 40 people.

Three members of the same family, meanwhile, were shot dead near the central Iraq town of Saadiyah early on Friday by unknown gunmen, an official said.

The mayor of Saadiyah, Ahmed al-Zarkushi, said the attackers killed Hussein Mutlak along with his brother and his cousin and wounded his wife.

Saadiyah, northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province, is within territory claimed by both the central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region.

Hussein al-Obaidi, a doctor at Saadiyah Hospital, confirmed the facility had received three bodies and a wounded woman.

A security official said it was unclear why the men were killed, although he noted Mutlak had provided free food to security forces near his home in the past.

The Baghdad blasts were the deadliest since U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by year’s end after failed negotiations with Iraq about a post-2011 U.S. military training mission here.

The issue of immunity from prosecution for U.S. trainers was the main sticking point, with Washington insisting its troops be given immunity, while Baghdad said that was not necessary.

The roughly 39,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are now in the process of drawing down, after a nearly nine-year campaign that has left thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi dead, and costs billions of dollars.