BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Violence rocked Iraq on Wednesday as at least 54 people died in car bombings, suicide attacks and assassinations around the country.
The bloodshed hit mostly Shi’ite sections of Baghdad and the troubled northern city of Mosul, where an al Qaeda breakaway faction, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), holds sway.
The bombings and killings were a reminder in the month since national elections were held that the pace of bloodshed has shown no signs of diminishing
In one attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City, a minivan pulled into a line of taxis and the driver abandoned the vehicle minutes before it exploded, police said. Four people were killed and 14 were wounded, police and medical sources said.
“People started shouting, ‘Where is the driver?’,” a witness said, describing the minutes before the blast. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another 22 people died in other attacks around Baghdad, including 11 in a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint in the religious neighborhood of Kadhimiyah, police and medical sources said.
One of the worst incidents occurred in northern Iraq when a car detonated at a checkpoint for entering Mosul.
At least 19 people were killed, 12 of them military personnel and seven civilians, a security official said.
A second car bomb exploded outside the headquarters of Iraq’s federal police in Mosul, leaving two soldiers and one policeman dead, the official said.
In a third attack in Mosul, two policemen were shot to death by unknown gunmen, according to security sources.
Also in northern Iraq, in Tuz Khurmatu, four family members were killed in a bomb blast when militants detonated explosives in front of the homes of 11 Shi’ite Turkmen, according to security sources. ISIL has repeatedly planted bombs by houses around central Iraq, including the homes of police officers.
Iraqi politicians are enmeshed in maneuvering to form the next government after the April 30 elections. Preliminary results give incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at least 94 seats and make him the front-runner to assemble the government. But the negotiations are expected to be protracted as sides barter over positions against the backdrop of violence in the country.
Reporting Kareem Raheem; Isra' al-Rubei'i; Writing by Ned Parker; Editing by Jonathan Oatis