IRAQ Blasts kill 15, wound 106 in Iraqi market

Political tensions roil fragile coalition government

June 23, 2012

Baghdad At least 15 people were killed and more than 106 wounded on Friday when two roadside bombs exploded in a Baghdad market, Iraqi police and hospital sources said, in the latest attack targeting Shiites this month.

A wave of bombings this month mainly targeting Shiites and shrines has killed more than 130 people and fuelled fears that Iraq could slip back into sectarian bloodletting of the kind that has receded since it peaked in 2006-07.

Tensions have run high since US troops left in December as Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political factions vie for power.

The first explosion struck Hussainiya, a market in a mainly Shiite area on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital, where people were shopping for groceries and other goods, sources said.

The second blast followed soon afterwards as security forces and people gathered to tend the casualties from the first.

“Fruit and vegetables have been scattered everywhere. Some children were wounded,” said Mudhaffar Khalaf, a policeman at the scene. “We have started to evacuate the injured people.”

On Monday, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 mourners at a Shiite funeral in the northern city of Baquba. Twin car bombs killed at least 26 Shiites on Saturday.

The attacks come as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki tries to fend off attempts by Sunni, Kurd and some Shiite rivals to organise a vote of no-confidence against him.

His opponents accuse the Shiite leader of trying to consolidate his power at their expense.

Earlier on Friday, gunmen in a speeding car using silenced weapons fired on a police checkpoint in Baghdad’s southwestern Bayaa district, killing three policemen, local police and hospital sources said.

Three civilians were also wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near an army checkpoint in Mosul, a local police source said.

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