Iraq bombers kill 24, 16 of them in cafe

Published August 12, 2013

| AFP

Bombers killed 24 people in Iraq on Monday, 16 of them in a suicide attack on a cafe north of Baghdad, officials said.

The other bombings hit a football field and a market, the latest in a upsurge of violence that has killed more than 3,400 people so far this year, according to an AFP tally.

Militants have carried out a number of attacks on cafes in recent weeks, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when many Iraqis went to cafes after breaking their daytime fast.

This Ramadan, which ended last week, was one of the deadliest for Iraq in years, with more than 800 people killed in attacks.

The suicide bomber struck a cafe in the town of Balad at around 6:30 pm (1530 GMT), also wounding more than 35 people, municipal council chief Faris Jaafar said.

In Muqdadiyah, also north of Baghdad, a bomb exploded near a football field, killing four people and wounding 14, among them three children.

And in the nearby Diyala provincial capital Baquba, a bomb exploded in a market, killing four people and wounding 20.

The attacks came a day after Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed attacks that killed more than 70 people on Saturday.

"The Islamic State mobilised... in Baghdad and the southern states and others to convey a quick message of deterrence on the third day of Eid al-Fitr," the group said, referring to the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

"They (Shiites) will not dream of security during night or day, during Eid or other" days, it said.

The attacks came just weeks after assaults on prisons near Baghdad, also claimed by the Al-Qaeda front group, freed hundreds of prisoners including leading militants.

The brazen assaults highlighted both the growing reach of militants in Iraq and the rapidly worsening security situation.

Analysts, as well as global police organisation Interpol, had warned that the jailbreaks could lead to a rise in attacks, as the escapees were said to include senior Al-Qaeda militants.

Violence in Iraq has increased markedly this year, with analysts saying the upsurge is driven by anger among the Sunni Arab minority that the Shiite-led government has failed to address, despite months of protests.

With the latest violence, attacks in Iraq have killed 3,404 people since the beginning of the year, according to figures compiled by AFP -- an average of 15 people killed each day.

Authorities have highlighted recent security operations -- among the largest since US forces departed in December 2011 -- which they say have led to the killing or capture of many militants.

But to the dismay of Iraqis, they have failed to stop the bloodshed.

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