July 28, 2013 8:48 am

Bomb attacks in Iraq kill at least 12 people, raising fears of sectarian conflict

Iraqi Sunni and Shiite Muslim worshipers perform a joint Ramadan Friday prayer in central Baghdad on July 26, 2013. Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority that the government has failed to address has fuelled the surge this year.

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images

BAGHDAD – Attacks around Iraq Sunday, including a suicide car bombing, killed at least 12 people, officials said, the latest in a surge of violence that has brought up the grim prospect of escalation into sectarian civil war.

The car bomber rammed his vehicle into a Kurdish security patrol in country’s north and killing eight. He struck as the patrol was passing through the ethnically-mixed northern town of Tuz Khormato, local police chief Col. Hussein Ali Rasheed said. Five people were wounded, he said.

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Tuz Khormato is in territory contested by Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Baghdad. Iraq’s Kurdish self-rule zone maintains its own security forces.

In Baghdad’s central Karrada neighbourhood, a bomb attached to a minibus killed three commuters and wounded nine others, police said. Another bomb went off before dawn near a teahouse in the capital’s northern al-Silaikh neighbourhood, killing one and wounding 10 others, police said.

Two medical officials confirmed the casually figures. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information to reporters.

The attacks come during an increase in violence that is raising fears of a return to the widespread sectarian killing that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. More than 3,000 people have died since April.

The bloodshed is linked to rising sectarian divisions between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims and friction between the Arabs and Kurds, dampening hopes for a return to normal life nearly two years after the last U.S. forces withdrew from the country.

© The Canadian Press, 2013

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