BAGHDAD, Iraq – Gunmen killed two relatives of a senior Kurdish official and 17 others died in a string of attacks overnight and on Sunday, piercing three days of relative calm that followed the country's first election for a full-term parliament.
The latest attacks, two of them homicide bombings, came after authorities eased stringent security measures put in place for the Oct. 15 parliamentary election and traffic returned to normal on the first full working day since the vote.
A ban on vehicles was lifted and the country's borders reopened Saturday, although the frontier with Syria remained closed. Authorities said it would reopen in a few days but did not give a reason for the delay.
Also on Sunday, the German foreign minister announced that Susanne Osthoff, a German woman kidnapped in Iraq earlier this year, has been freed.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, two relatives of an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main Kurdish parties, were shot late Saturday as they walked near their house, police said. They were identified as Dhiab Hamad al-Hamdani and his son — the uncle and nephew of party official Khodr Hassan al-Hamdani. The PUK is led by President Jalal Talabani.
In Baghdad on Sunday, a roadside bomb killed three police officers and wounded two. A similar attack on Saturday night killed one policeman and wounded two in the northern town of Tuz, 68 miles south of Kirkuk, police said.
Unidentified gunmen killed a police lieutenant colonel and an Interior Ministry employee in separate attacks. Both were driving to work in western Baghdad when they were attacked. Four police officers were seriously injured when their squad car was sprayed with gunfire and a tea seller was shot and killed in the same area.
A police captain and his driver were shot and killed in south Baghdad while two people, including an Interior Ministry driver, were killed in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum.
A homicide bomber killed a police officer and injured two when he blew up a bomb in a mini van at a checkpoint along the a highway in eastern Baghdad near the Interior Ministry.
A roadside bomb killed at least one woman and injured 11 in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah, police said.
Police also said one homicide bomber was killed in Amiriyah, about 25 miles west of Baghdad when his explosives-laden belt prematurely detonated a belt.
On Sunday, police found the body of a former Iraqi Army officer at a fuel station in the center of the capital. Abbas Abdullah Fadhl had been shot to death in his car, they said. Another unidentified man was found shot dead in east Baghdad.
Millions of Iraqis voted Thursday to choose a four-year parliament in an election that passed peacefully around the country. Although no official figures have been released, authorities estimate just under 70 percent of Iraq's 15 million registered voters cast ballots.
The big turnout — particularly among the disaffected Sunni Arab minority which boycotted the election of a temporary legislature last January — have boosted hopes that increasing political participation may undermine the insurgency and allow U.S. troops to begin pulling out next year.
Shiites account for about 60 percent of the country's 27 million people, compared to 20 percent for Sunni Arabs. Both Shiite and Sunni political leaders have said they will likely have to form a coalition government together and both sides have expressed a willingness to do so.
Shiite Arabs and Kurds, two groups that were oppressed under the Sunni Arab-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein, allied to form the interim government that has ruled since last spring.
In violence overnight, a roadside bomb killed one policeman and wounded two in the northern town of Tuz, 68 miles south of Kirkuk, police said.
Also on Saturday, gunmen broke into a barber shop in Baladruz, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing two policemen and a civilian and wounding the barber, police said.