Blasts in Iraq kill 32


Coordinated bomb attacks killed more than 32 people across Iraq on Sunday, the latest violence in an insurgency the government has failed to quell more than nine months after the last US troops withdrew.

No group claimed responsibility for Sunday's string of attacks, but a local al-Qaeda affiliate and other Sunni Islamist groups have carried out at least one major assault a month since the last American troops left in December.

In Taji, north of Baghdad, bombs in three parked cars went off separately, killing 11 people and injuring 24, including several policemen. Taji has one of Iraq's largest military airbases but the bombing hit a civilian neighbourhood.

In Baghdad, three separate bombs killed eight people, including a police officer. In the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a car blew himself up, killing four policemen, police and local officials said. Another attack targeted a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims as it passed through the town of Madaen, about 30 km southeast of Baghdad. Two passers-by were killed.

Two more policemen were killed when a car bomb went off in the town of Balad Ruz, 90 km northeast of Baghdad, and bomb planted in a parked car in al-Qaeda stronghold Mosul killed a civilian. Further attacks around the country killed a further four people and left scores wounded.

Al Qaeda's local wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, recently had said it was launching a new offensive against mainly Shiite targets. The conflict in Syria has also helped inflame Sunni-Shiite tensions region wide, not least in Iraq, where a return to sectarian slaughter is a real risk.

Since the last US troops left, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government has been politically deadlocked and insurgents have continued to strike, hoping to ignite the kind of sectarian tensions that drove Iraq close to civil war in 2006-2007.

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