String of attacks in Iraq kills dozens

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of Shiite pilgrims passing through a mainly Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad and another detonated his explosives inside a cafe north of the capital, the deadliest of several attacks across Iraq on Saturday that killed at least 66 people.

The killings, which also included attacks on journalists and antiextremist Sunni fighters, are part of the deadliest surge in violence to hit Iraq in five years. The accelerating bloodshed is raising fears that the country is falling back into the spiral of violence that brought it to the edge of civil war in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The extent of the carnage from the evening attack on the pilgrims became clearer as midnight approached, when officials sharply revised the death toll upward to at least 42. Another 80 were reported injured.

Around the same time, another suicide bomber blew himself up in a cafe in the town of Balad, a largely Shiite town surrounded by Sunni communities about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Balad Mayor Malik Lefta said at least 13 people were killed and 22 were wounded in that attack.

In the predominantly Sunni town of Hawija, gunmen attacked a two car convoy carrying a local leader of the militia group Sahwa, which joined U.S. troops in the fight against al-Qaida at the height of Iraq war, said police Chief Col. Fattah Mahmoud Yassin. He said the militia leader survived but three of his bodyguards were killed.

A bomb also hit a checkpoint manned by Sahwa members in the town of Youssifiyah, south of the Iraqi capital, killing three of the fighters and wounding five other people, police said.

Hospital officials confirmed the casualties provided by the unnamed police officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

String of attacks in Iraq kills dozens 10/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 5, 2013 10:39pm]

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