Baghdad attacks kill 24 as Iraq presses Anbar assault

Baghdad attack death toll reaches 24
Baghdad, Feb 3: A series of attacks in and around Baghdad, including a spate of car bombings, killed 24 people today as Iraqi forces pressed an assault against militant-held areas of Anbar province.

The latest bloodshed comes amid a surge in violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in January, the worst such figure in nearly six years, as security forces grapple with near-daily attacks and protracted battles with anti-government fighters.

Foreign leaders have urged the Shiite-led government to do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority in a bid to undercut support for militants. But with parliamentary polls looming in less than three months, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line.

Despite officials insisting operations against militants, including those affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, are having an impact, the bloodshed has continued unabated. In and around the capital today, seven car bombs killed 20 people while authorities said they found the dumped bodies of three men and a woman.

All were shot in the head and they appear to have been tortured. Seven people were killed in two separate car bombs -- one of which was detonated by a suicide attacker -- in the town of Mahmudiyah, just south of the capital. Thirteen others were killed by vehicles rigged with explosives in the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Baladiyat, Hurriyah, Sadr City and Dura.

The killings in particular are a reminder of Iraq's brutal 2006-2007 Sunni-Shiite sectarian war, when corpses were often found abandoned on the streets, with the victims bearing signs of torture.

North of Baghdad in restive Diyala province, separate attacks on security forces left two soldiers dead, while bombings also struck in ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, wounding three people.

January's death toll of more than 1,000 killed nationwide was the highest monthly figure since April 2008, according to government data.


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