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Iraq funeral bomb kills 14 after deadly month Nearly 950 people died in November: data

BAGHDAD, Dec 1, (AFP): A suicide bombing at the funeral of an Iraqi anti- Qaeda fighter killed 14 people Sunday as figures showed nearly 950 people died last month in spiralling violence ahead of elections. Iraq’s worst protracted period of unrest since it emerged from a gruesome Sunni- Shiite sectarian war has sparked fears of a return to all-out bloodletting. Officials have adopted an array of measures aimed at halting the attacks, focusing their efforts on resurgent al- Qaeda front groups emboldened by the war raging in neighbouring Syria. On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral of an anti-al- Qaeda fighter killed a day earlier near the restive confessionally mixed city of Baquba. The blast happened at the graveyard in Wajihiyah village during the funeral for Mudher al-Shallal al-Araki. Overall, 12 people were killed and 28 were wounded, police and a doctor said. The 27-year-old had been a fighter in the Sahwa, the militia formed of Sunni tribesmen that from late 2006 sided with US forces against their co-religionists in al-Qaeda, helping to turn the tide of Iraq’s insurgency. Sunni militants regard the Sahwa as traitors and often target them.

Araki’s father was a leader in the Sahwa, and a sheikh of the Arakiya tribe. Violence west of Baghdad on Sunday killed four more people, officials said. The bloodshed was the latest in a months-long spike in violence that has killed more than 6,100 people, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical reports. New data from the health, interior and defence ministries, showed that 948 people were killed in violence last month — 852 civilians, 53 policemen and 43 soldiers. Another 1,349 were wounded. The overall monthly toll was marginally down on October’s multi-year high of 964, but November was still among Iraq’s bloodiest months since 2008, when it was slowly emerging from a brutal sectarian war. AFP’s tally showed a decline in violence, but the overall toll of 692 dead was still among the highest this year. Attacks hit all manner of targets nationwide, from civilians in cafes, restaurants and at football pitches to security forces and government officials in police stations, army bases and checkpoints. “The policies of the state and the poor security measures are the reasons for what is happening in the country,” said electronics shop owner Abu Mohammed (father of Mohammed). “There should be tight security around the capital, instead of putting checkpoints on the streets,” he said.

He blamed political infighting for much of the bloodshed, telling AFP: “Even terrorism, where did it come from? The situation would have been better if there were independent institutions working away from the interference of parties.” In troubling scenes reminiscent of the worst of Iraq’s sectarian war, meanwhile, dozens of bodies have been found in Baghdad and Sunni Arab areas north of the capital. At the peak of sectarian fighting in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, Sunni and Shiite militias regularly carried out tit-for-tat kidnappings and assassinations. Scores of corpses were dumped in the streets. “I am profoundly disturbed by the recent surge in execution-style killings that have been carried out in a particularly horrendous and unspeakable manner,” UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to address Sunni disquiet over what they see as mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities. However, the authorities have trumpeted security operations and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki used a recent US trip to push for greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems in a bid to combat militants. The rise in violence comes ahead of a general election due on April 30, Iraq’s first parliamentary polls in four years.

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