Bus passengers gunned down in Iraq day of violence which kills 42

Militants gun down 12 people on a bus in the northern city of Mosul in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq.

MOSUL, IRAQ // Militants gunned down 12 people on a bus in the northern city of Mosul in Iraq yesterday, police and a morgue employee said.

The attack comes after a television presenter was killed the previous day in the city, which is one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq.

Elsewhere militants attacked and temporarily occupied a city council headquarters and assaulted a police station yesterday, as violence across the country killed 42 people, officials said.

The attacks on the city council and the police station illustrate the impunity with which militants in Iraq can strike even targets that should be highly secure.

Violence in the country has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings, and has raised fears it is slipping back into all-out conflict.

An attack on the city council headquarters in Tikrit, in the northern Salaheddin province, began when militants detonated a car bomb near the building and then occupied it, with employees still inside.

Iraqi security forces surrounded the building, and then carried out an assault that the Counter-Terrorism Service spokesman, Sabah Noori, said freed 40 people who were held inside.

“We freed all the hostages... and our forces killed one suicide (bomber), but two others blew themselves up,” Mr Noori said.

The assault came after suicide bombers struck a police station in the town of Baiji, also in Salaheddin province.

One bomber detonated a car bomb at the gate of the station, after which three entered, shot dead an officer and a policeman, and waited for security forces.

SWAT forces then attacked, killing one of the militants, while the other two blew themselves up, killing three police.

However, the bus attack in Mosul was the single deadliest incident yesterday. The city has become one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, with militants carrying out frequent attacks and reportedly extorting money from shopkeepers.

The TV presenter who was killed on Sunday was named Nawras Al Nuaimi. She was the sixth journalist to be killed in Iraq since October, five of whom died in Mosul.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over shortcomings in media freedom, and ranks first in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Index, which tracks unsolved murders of journalists.

More people died in violence in the first eight days of this month than in the whole of last December, and over 6,500 people have been killed since the beginning of 2013.

Officials have blamed the violence on Al Qaeda-linked militants emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, but analysts and diplomats also say the government has not done enough to address underlying domestic grievances fuelling the violence.

Members of the country’s Sunni minority, who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Shiite-led government, have held demonstrations for almost a year.

Unrest spiked after security forces stormed a Sunni Arab protest camp north of Baghdad in April, sparking clashes that killed dozens of people.

* Agencies

Published: December 16, 2013 04:00 AM

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