Police: Attacks around Iraq kill 9 people
BAGHDAD (AP) — Attacks across Iraq killed nine people on Monday, including a 10-year-old boy out swimming with friends, the latest in a surge of violence rocking Iraq during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Violence in Iraq is now at its deadliest level in half a decade, raising fears the country is returning to the widespread bloodshed that pushed the country to the edge of civil war. More than 2,800 people have been killed since the start of April.
Police said Monday’s deadliest attack was a mortar barrage near a group of people trying to escape the blistering summer heat by swimming in the Tigris River near Samarra, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Four people were killed in the mortar shelling, including the boy, and 11 others were wounded, according to police.
Temperatures in Baghdad soared above 45 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit).
In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb went off near a passing security patrol, killing a policeman and wounding 11 other people, including four civilians.
The blast left a crater two meters (six feet) wide near the side of the road, and the charred hull of the blue police pickup truck lay mangled in the street.
Hours later, a suicide bomber slammed his explosives-laden car into an army checkpoint near Kirkuk, killing two soldiers, according to Lt. Gen. Mohammed Khalaf, a senior military commander in the city.
More than 140 people have been killed since Muslims in Iraq began observing Ramadan on Wednesday.
The American and British Embassies each issued statements Monday condemning the daily rash of attacks.
“That these attacks have taken place during the holy month of Ramadan, a time for charity and compassion is especially disturbing,” said Britain’s charge d’affaires in Iraq, Robert Deane. “This continued violence is clearly intended to fuel sectarian strife and destabilize the country.”
Pious Muslims go without food, drink, smoking and sex in the daytime during the holy month, when feelings of spiritual devotion are high. In the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the start of Ramadan often also brought a wave of insurgent attacks — a pattern being repeated this year.
In other violence on Monday, police said gunmen sprayed a security checkpoint with bullets just south of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding four others.
Hospital officials confirmed the death toll. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Monday’s attacks came a day after a wave of coordinated bombings in mostly Shiite cities and other attacks left at least 38 dead and scores wounded.
Associated Press Writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Adam Schreck contributed.