Eid Iraq attacks kill 22

October 2, 2008 12:00 am

, BAGHDAD, October 2 – Twin suicide bombings near Shiite mosques in Baghdad on Thursday killed at least 16 people as worshippers celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, officials said.

Another six people were shot dead in an ambush in a restive city north of the capital, they said.

Security officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up in Jadida, a Shiite district of southern Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 30.

In the second attack, a bomber slammed his explosives-filled car into an Iraqi military armoured vehicle at a checkpoint near a mosque in the nearby neighbourhood of Zafaraniyah, the officials said.

The blast killed four people, including three soldiers, and wounded 10 worshippers.

Six people were also killed when gunmen opened fire at a minibus near the city of Baquba, the capital of the restive province of Diyala, a security official said.

Diyala is one of the most dangerous provinces of and insurgents have managed to carry out attacks there despite heavy military crackdowns by security forces.

On Wednesday, four people were killed and 15 wounded in a car bomb attack at a mosque in Balad, north of Baghdad, as devotees gathered for prayers, the military said.

The bomb exploded in the car park of the Sayid Mohammed mosque in Balad in the Sunni province of Salaheddin, the military said, adding that there was no damage to the mosque.

The latest wave of attacks came as the majority of Shiites in celebrated Eid, a day after Sunni Muslims began to mark the end of Ramadan.

has seen a downward trend in violence since the middle of last year, although bloodshed spiked in March and April during clashes between Shiite militiamen and US-led security forces.

In September, a total of 440 Iraqis were killed in militia and insurgent violence, including 359 civilians, 26 Iraqi soldiers and 55 policemen, according to figures from various ministries.

The death toll was little changed from 431 in August.

US and Iraqi officials claim that violence in the country is at a four-year low, but recent weeks have seen a slight spike in deadly attacks.

The first 21 days of Ramadan were the quietest fasting period in the Iraqi capital in three years, Major General Jeffery Hammond, the commander for Baghdad, said last week.

He said the period saw just 60 attacks compared with 600 in 2007 and 800 in 2006 — the year when sectarian violence erupted across .

However, Hammond said Baghdad was now witnessing "4.2 attacks per day, 89 percent less than in 2006 and 83 less than in 2007."

Hammond noted that there had been a spike in violence over the past few days, but said it was not still reversing the overall downward trend.

"There has been a slight increase of violence in September," he said, adding that this was always the trend during Ramadan.

But the rise has not changed the overall declining trend, he said.


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