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Middle east

One year after US withdrawal, uncertainty reigns in Iraq

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-12-18

One year after US forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, Iraq continues to see regular outbreaks of sectarian violence and almost daily terrorist attacks, including a wave of bombings that killed 35 people on Monday.

A wave of attacks targeting both Iraqi security forces and civilians killed 35 people on Monday, in a second day of deadly violence ahead of the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US forces.

Monday was the deadliest day in Iraq since November 29, when 50 people were killed, and the latest violence comes after attacks killed 19 people and wounded 77 on Sunday.

US military forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18 last year, ending a nearly nine-year war that cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Violence in Iraq is down significantly from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but while Iraqi forces have held their own since the US departure, insurgent groups still pose a significant threat, and attacks occur almost daily.

On Monday, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint on the highway west of Tikrit, killing one policeman and wounding three, a senior police officer said.

A police patrol chased the gunmen, who abandoned their car and then detonated explosives in it, killing four more police and wounding two, the officer said. A doctor confirmed the toll.

In the village of Al-Buslaibi, north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting an army patrol killed three soldiers, army and police officers said.

And gunmen attacked an army checkpoint in the north Iraqi city of Mosul, killing one soldier, an army officer and a doctor said.

A car bomb in Khaznah, a village near Mosul populated by the small Shabak minority, killed seven people and wounded 12, while two car bombs near a Shiite place of worship killed five and wounded 26 in the northern flashpoint town of Tuz Khurmatu, security and medical sources said.

Three roadside bombs exploded near Baquba, north of Baghdad, killing one person and wounding four others, while a magnetic "sticky bomb" and a shooting in the city killed two people and wounded six, police and medics said.

In other attacks in Diyala province, gunmen wounded three Kurds in Jalawla, while a sticky bomb killed two Kurds in Baladruz, according to the same sources.

Khaznah, Tuz Khurmatu and Jalawla are all part of areas Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region wants to incorporate, over Baghdad's strong objections.

A salvo of 10 mortar rounds slammed into the town of Rutba in Anbar province, killing two and wounding nine, officials said, and a car bomb near Dujail north of Baghdad killed one Iraqi and wounded at least 10 Iranian pilgrims.

In the Karada area in central Baghdad, a car bomb killed at least one person and wounded at least four, an interior ministry official and a medical source said.

The shredded remains of a car lay at the site of the blast, which shattered windows, damaged other vehicles and left debris strewn in the street, which was packed with Iraqi security forces after the attack.

"The security situation is worsening," said Duniyah, a 23-year-old employee of a hotel near the site of the explosion, who was watching the street from inside the hotel entrance, which was strewn with broken glass.

A roadside bomb against a police patrol in Madain, south of Baghdad, wounded three police and two civilians, while an attack by gunmen on a Sahwa anti-Qaeda militia checkpoint west of the north Iraq city of Kirkuk killed one militiaman, security and medical officials said.

And a car bomb in Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, killed two civilians and two police, and wounded seven other people, police Captain Abdul Hafez al-Mahlawi said.

Iraqi security forces have been able to hold violence in check, with the number of people killed in the first 11 months of 2012 fewer than in the same period the year before, according to government figures.

"The withdrawal of US forces meant that training became reduced, intelligence gathering became limited and quick reaction forces were no longer as well resourced or able to reach flashpoints at short notice," said John Drake, an analyst with AKE group.

"However, counter-insurgency operations and arrests didn't decline," he said, though "the Iraqi military still has a long way to go in terms of building capabilities, and they remain under-resourced and regularly targeted."

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-12-18

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