Mar
20

Iraq bombs kill dozens ahead of Arab League summit

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Car and roadside bombs explode in cities and towns across country, killing at least 39 people

Car and roadside bombs have exploded in cities and towns across Iraq, killing dozens of people, extending a spate of violence ahead of next week’s Arab League summit in Baghdad.

The meeting is seen as the country’s debut on the regional stage following the withdrawal of US troops in December and Iraq’s government is anxious to show it can reinforce security to host its neighbours.

Police and hospital sources said at least 39 people had been killed and 188 wounded in the bombings.

The deadliest attack occurred in the Shia holy city of Kerbala, where twin explosions killed 13 people and wounded 48, according to health department spokesman Jamal Mahdi.

“The second explosion caused the biggest destruction. I saw body parts, fingers, hands thrown on the road,” 23-year-old shop owner Murtadha Ali Kadhim told Reuters.

“The security forces are stupid because they always gather at the site of an explosion and then a second explosion occurs. They become a target.”

In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded near a police headquarters, killing seven people and wounding 30, police and health sources said, while a suicide car bomber killed three and wounded 21 in central Baghdad.

Blasts also occurred in Baiji, Samarra, Tuz Khurmato, Daquq and Dhuluiya, all north of Baghdad, and Hilla and Latifiya in the south. Police in the northeastern city of Baquba said they had also found and defused eight bombs.

On Monday evening, bombers struck five times in the northern province of Diyala, killing at least three people and wounding more than 30, police said.

The Arab League summit is due to be held in Baghdad on 27-29 March, the first time Iraq will host the event in more than 20 years.

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