A wave of attacks, most of them car bombs targeting Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, killed 33 people yesterday in the latest bout of deadly violence to hit Iraq, while a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s northern Sinai, killing 10 and wounding 35.
The bombings and shootings in Iraq, which left more than 70 people wounded in all, came amid a protracted surge in bloodletting just months ahead of general elections that has forced Iraqi officials to appeal for international help in combating the country’s worst unrest since 2008.
At least eight explosions, including seven car bombs, went off mostly in Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital from about 7:30am onwards, leaving 28 people dead and more than 70 wounded, according to security and medical officials.
They come after similarly coordinated bombings in Baghdad on Sunday evening left 21 dead and pushed the overall death toll for this month above 300.
Yesterday’s attacks occurred in areas ranging from the city’s main commercial district of Karrada to the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Shaab, as well as Sadriyah, one of Baghdad’s oldest districts.
One car bomb also went off in the Sunni-majority neighborhood of Adhamiyah in north Baghdad, the officials said.
The blast in Karrada struck near a car dealership as Shiites were gathering to mark the anniversary of the death of a venerated figure in Shiite Islam, when Sunni militants often step up their attacks.
“We were cooking and giving food on the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein,” said Ahmed Abu Ali, an employee of the al-Baldawi car dealership. “Many people were gathering at the dealership and suddenly a car blew up 20 meters away.”
In a separate attack in the normally peaceful northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, gunmen assassinated Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s chief bodyguard, according to a police spokesman.
The trio of attackers entered Colonel Sarwat Rashid’s home and shot him three times in the head in front of his wife, the spokesman said.
Authorities were still investigating the motive behind the attack.
Talabani has for nearly a year been recovering in Germany from a stroke and Rashid had been due to depart Sulaimaniyah to visit the president, for whom he had been head of personal security since 1994.
Multiple shootings in Baghdad and the main northern city of Mosul, along with a bombing in Abu Ghraib, left four others dead.
In Egypt said the suicide bomber struck when the two buses were traveling on a road between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged both buses, officials said.
The 10 victims were the bus driver, three members of a security detail and six off-duty soldiers, according to a statement by Colonel Mohammed Ahmed Ali, a military spokesman.
“The precious blood of our sons strengthens our resolve to cleanse Egypt, and shield its sons from violence and treacherous terrorism,” Ali wrote on his Facebook page.
The wounded were being treated in military hospitals, he said.
The soldiers belonged to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. The buses were on their way to Cairo, officials said.