At least 19 killed in spate of attacks in Iraq


A woman walks past civilians inspecting damages after a car bombing in Sadr City in Baghdad. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

At least 19 people were killed in Iraq on Tuesday as insurgents targeted day laborers, government workers and an anti-terrorism police captain amid a continuing surge of violence, according to security officials.

At least 80 people were injured, the officials said.

In the attack on the captain, gunmen stormed the home of Hassan Abdulla al-Timimi in the Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad, killing him, his wife and their three children, said Col. Sabah al-Falahi, a local police commander. After leaving the house, the insurgents set off two explosions, injuring four of Timimi’s neighbors, Falahi said.

The attacks come amid a political crisis that has virtually paralyzed the government in the wake of the U.S. troop departure last month. Analysts contend that insurgents are taking advantage of the chaos to try to exacerbate sectarian strife between Shiite and Sunni extremists. In recent weeks, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Islamic State of Iraq, has asserted responsibility for at least 37 attacks, saying it was protesting the detention of Sunnis in Shiite-controlled jails. Many of Tuesday’s bombings targeted Shiite neighborhoods.

Insurgents attacked two locations in Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite slum in Baghdad named after the father of Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr. In one incident, a parked car exploded near a group of day laborers waiting for work. In the other, a bomb detonated near a gas station. The blasts killed six people and injured 35, a security official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief reporters publicly.

In Baghdad’s Hurriya district, another Shiite area, a parked car exploded, killing one and injuring 13. A blast in the central area of Allawi injured six, and in the Shaala area, a car bomb blew up near a school compound, killing two students and injuring 18, the official said. Later, gunmen armed with silencer pistols shot a media employee of the National Reconciliation Committee, critically injuring him, the official said.

To the west, four people were killed in bombings in predominantly Sunni Anbar province. One of them, an engineer with the provincial reconstruction committee, died when a bomb under his car exploded, according to security officials.

Also in Anbar, gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles opened fire at a police station about 10 miles outside the city of Ramadi. A police officer was killed and three were injured, said Maj. Raheem Zabin of the provincial police force. The assailants escaped, he said. That incident followed two deadly attacks on security facilities in Anbar — a police compound in Ramadi and an army checkpoint in Fallujah — in the past nine days.

In the 30 days after U.S. troops left on Dec. 18, at least 327 people were killed in bombings and assassinations, according to a security official. That appears to be a sharp increase over previous months. In 2011, Iraqi officials recorded about 2,640 deaths, according to totals from the Interior and Health ministries, which averages out to about 220 killings a month.

Special correspondents Aziz Alwan, Uthman al-Mukhtar and Asaad Majeed contributed to this report.

Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.

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