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31 dead in two days of Iraq violence

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Two days of violence in Iraq killed 31 people, police and doctors said Monday, the latest in a wave of unrest in which more than 190 people have died in just eight days.

Iraq has been hit by a surge in violence that has killed upwards of 2,400 people this year, which analysts link to widespread discontent among minority Sunnis who accuse Shiite authorities of marginalising and targeting their community.

Anger among Sunnis gives militant groups increased room to manoeuvre, boosts recruitment and feeds motivation for more attacks, analysts say.

Monday's deadliest violence was in the north, where a car bomb south of the city of Mosul killed six people, including three children, and wounded eight.

Gunmen in Mosul also shot dead Qahtan Sami, the spokesman of the Nineveh governorate, while a car bomb killed one person and wounded four in the city.

In Madain, south of Baghdad, a bomb exploded near a football field inside a sports club, killing at least five people.

And gunmen attacked a checkpoint on a highway in northern Iraq, sparking clashes that killed three anti-Al-Qaeda fighters and two militants.

Another anti-Al-Qaeda fighter was killed by a magnetic "sticky bomb" near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

The fighters, known as Sahwa, are a collection of Sunni tribal militias that turned against Al-Qaeda and sided with the US military from late 2006 onwards, helping turn the tide against Iraq's bloody insurgency.

They are regarded as traitors by Sunni militants and are frequently targeted in attacks.

Two Shiite brothers were gunned down while working in a field northeast of Baquba, an attack followed about 30 minutes later by another shooting that killed two Sunnis north of the city.

"It seems there is a sectarian relation between the two attacks," a police colonel said.

Iraq was plagued by sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people in past years, and there are persistent fears that sectarian tensions will again boil over into all-out conflict.

On Sunday night, gunmen killed a policeman, his father, his wife and three children as they drove south of Baghdad on their way back from a wedding.

And armed men shot dead two police in an attack on a checkpoint in Tikrit, north of the capital.

With the latest violence, more than 190 people have been killed so far in July -- far more than in the whole month of December, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

Iraq is also struggling with political deadlock that has paralysed the government, with almost no major legislation passed in years.

Political leaders have vowed to resolve outstanding disputes, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meeting his two main rivals last month in a bid to ease tensions, but no tangible measures have been announced.

Analysts and diplomats worry that the stand-off, which is often linked to levels of violence, is unlikely to be resolved at least until general elections due next year.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130708/31-dead-two-days-iraq-violence