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Iraqis slam government over deadly wave of bombings

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iraqis roundly condemned the authorities on Sunday for failing to stop a wave of deadly unrest including attacks that killed dozens of people the day before.

Attacks on Sunday itself killed another 12 people, as the country struggles with a surge in violence that has plagued it since the beginning of the year.

More than 530 people have been killed so far this month, and over 2,800 since January 1, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

On Sunday, the death toll continued to mount.

In the deadliest incident, gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the Zab area of Kirkuk province in north Iraq, killing five members of an Arab unit of the peshmerga security forces, officials said.

Members of the peshmerga, the security forces of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, are overwhelmingly ethnic Kurds.

Gunmen also attacked a checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul, killing two police officers.

In Taji, north of Baghdad, two roadside bombs exploded near an army base, killing three people and wounding at least 10.

And a bomb exploded in the garden of a house in Besmayah, southeast of the capital, killing two people and wounding four, all from the same family.

The blasts came a day after Baghdad was hit by 12 car bombs, a roadside bomb and a shooting, while another bomb blew up south of the capital. A total of 67 people were killed.

Attacks elsewhere killed another three people on Saturday.

The Baghdad attacks struck as residents turned out to shop and relax in cafes after iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

On Sunday, Iraqis sharply criticised the authorities for failing to prevent the bloodshed.

"This is a cartoon government and its security forces cannot protect themselves, let alone protect the people," one man said sadly near the site of one bombing in central Baghdad.

In Tobchi, a north Baghdad area hit in the Saturday attacks, another man resorted to sarcasm.

"These car bombs come to us from Mars, because the security forces are implementing strict regulations to prevent their entry here," he said.

A third slammed the aloof attitude of the political elite, who rarely comment on the spiralling violence.

"Iraqis are being protected only by God, because the politicians only care about their positions and personal interests," he said.

In the first 12 days of Ramadan, more than 340 people have been killed in Iraq violence.

And with 10 days still to go, July is already the second-deadliest month of 2013 with a death toll significantly higher than those of January and February combined.

"The holy month of Ramadan should be a time for spirituality and forgiveness, instead of increasing violence and division," UN Iraq envoy Martin Kobler said in a statement.

"I call on all Iraqis not to let violence prevail and to work together toward peace and dialogue, the only sustainable solution," he said.

Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni minority, which the government has failed to address, has fuelled the surge in unrest.

In May, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a shake-up of senior security officers, but the violence continued unabated.

Iraqi Sunnis accuse the Shiite-led government of marginalising and targeting their community, including via unwarranted arrests and terrorism charges.

Protests broke out in Sunni-majority areas at the end of 2012 and are still ongoing.

On April 23, security forces moved against protesters near the town of Hawijah in the north, sparking clashes that killed 53 people and sending tensions soaring.

More than 450 people have been killed each month from April to the present.

In addition to security problems, the government in Baghdad is also failing to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, and corruption is also widespread.

Political squabbling has paralysed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130721/iraqis-slam-government-over-deadly-wave-bombings-2