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Iraqi PM appeals for help as car bombs kill 6

September 18, 2013

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister appealed to his people for support for the government’s fight against insurgents as bombings in central and northern Iraq killed at least six and wounded scores on Wednesday.

The bombings came a day after a series of attacks targeted commercial streets, killing at least 31 people in the latest chapter in the country’s months-long, spiraling violence. More than 4,000 people have been killed in Iraq since April, including 804 just in August, according to U.N. figures.

Despite a counter-insurgency operation recently launched by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government, there has been no significant dent in the pace of attacks. The operation, dubbed “Revenge for the Martyrs” has so far focused mainly on Sunni-dominated areas, particularly former Sunni militant strongholds.

In a televised weekly speech, al-Maliki appealed to Iraqis to support the operation.

“The operation must continue and accelerate to chase down the criminal and terrorist gangs,” he said. “I call upon all citizens, politicians and journalists to support the security forces in their effort to continue pressuring and chasing down the terrorists.”

Wednesday’s attacks started with a suicide bomber who blew up his explosives-laden vehicle in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khormato, killing a civilian and a five-year old child, said police chief Col. Hussein Ali Rasheed. Twenty-six people were wounded in the attack, he added.

The town, about 200 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad, sits in a band of territory contested by Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen and is a frequent flashpoint for violence.

In Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded in a commercial area in the central Bataween area, killing one person and wounding five people, a police officer said. That explosion was followed by another car bombing in the same area that left three dead and 10 wounded, he added.

A medical official confirmed the causality figures in Baghdad. Both officials spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to release information.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks but car bombs and suicide bombings bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida’s local branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, which is trying to undermine confidence in al-Maliki’s government.

Violence in Iraq surged in April after government troops moved against a camp of Sunni demonstrators in the town of Hawija north of Baghdad, triggering deadly clashes nationwide. Although overall death tolls are still lower than at the height of the conflict in 2004-2008, the cycle of violence is reminiscent to the one that brought the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007.

Update hourly