Weekly Security Update 22 – 28 May

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By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk

NEWS UPDATE

Several bomb blasts in Iraq have killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens more in the latest eruption of violence, officials reported this morning.

The blasts, including at least one car bomb, targeted the capital, Baghdad, and the northern city of Mosul.

At least one car bomb killed four people in northeastern Baghdad and another two people were killed and a dozen more wounded in a further bombing in the centre of the capital.  In the northern city of Mosul, three policemen were killed in an early morning suicide attack.

This week alone, more than 60 people were killed in attacks targeting main Shia areas of Baghdad on Monday. A further 25 deaths were reported in bombings in the city on Wednesday.

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

Amidst continuing sectarian conflict Iraqi’s bore the brunt of another turbulent week where approx. 243 people have been killed and scores more wounded.  Despite a small weekly drop in overall violence the focal points remain firmly in the central and northern belts with a terrible toll exacted in Baghdad during the latter part of the reporting period.

Thursday 23 May saw seven ISF personnel killed in clashes with militants, police and hospital sources said, as fears mount that Iraq is sliding back into an abyss, similar to the 2006 – 2007 civil war.  Unidentified gunmen fired on an army checkpoint in Taji, 20 km north of Baghdad overnight, killing four soldiers and further west in Anbar, three soldiers were killed during a two-hour gun battle with men who attacked a checkpoint controlled by government-backed Sunni fighters in Garma, 9 km east of the city of Falluja, in a continuation of the attacks reported last week.

There was no word on casualties among the attackers, or on their identity, however Sunni militants in the ISI have previously targeted security forces and Sunni fighters who cooperate with the Shi’ite-led government.  The proximity to the Syrian border, plentiful re-supply and safe areas provide the ISI and other extreme elements the perfect launching point for attacks in a province that they are desperately trying to leverage influence and increase their exposure and popularity amongst a disenfranchised Sunni population.

In a departure from the previous weeks Friday Prayers across the country remained relatively peaceful and incident free, as did much of the weekend.  This calm was however violently shattered by multiple devastating IED attacks through Monday 27 May.  More than 70 people were killed in a wave of bombings in markets in Shi’ite neighbourhoods across Baghdad.   More than a dozen blasts tore into markets and shopping areas in districts across the Iraqi capital, including twin bombs just several hundred meters apart that killed at least 13 people in the capital’s Sadr City area. A VBIED rammed vehicles and exploded on a traffic packed intersection with the driver leaving the scene in anticipation of a follow up VBIED that also detonated targeting crowds of observers and helpers who had gathered to assist and help at the scene, local sources reported.

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