July 20, 2015 / 8:24 PM / 2 years ago

Kidnaps and arrests following deadly bombing in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 10 civilians were killed by mortar and rocket fire on Monday in the central Iraqi village of Hudaid, north of Khan Bani Saad, where dozens of people were killed in a huge bombing last week, medics and a police sergeant said.

The origin of the attack, in which at least 16 others were wounded, was not immediately clear. Most of Diyala province, where the villages are located, is controlled by the government-backed militias and Shi‘ite dominated army, but there are pockets of insurgents.

The police sergeant said residents of mainly Sunni Hudaid had started fleeing to the provincial capital, raising the prospect of worsening sectarian division in an area where Iraqi officials declared victory over Islamic State militants only six months ago.

Friday’s blast in Khan Bani Saad, 30 km (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, killed more than 100 people, making it one of the deadliest attacks carried out by Islamic State militants since they overran large parts of northern and western Iraq last year.

Iraqi officials declared victory over the radical Sunni group in Diyala province in January after security forces and Shi‘ite paramilitaries drove them out of towns and villages. The insurgents however remain active in the area.

Prime Minsiter Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shi’ite Islamist who has sought to curb violence carried out under his predecessor, visited the site of the attack in Khan Bani Saad on Monday.

Thirteen men were kidnapped earlier in the same area, including a Sunni tribal leader, security and tribal sources said. Sheikh Talab al-Jumaili and three of his sons were among those kidnapped, along with seven men from the Albu Hamdan tribe, the sources said.

The town’s municipal council building was also torched overnight. The police presence in the Shi‘ite-majority area was stepped up to prevent further vandalism or riots.

Five men suspected in the Khan Bani Saad bombing were arrested on Monday, Dijla Operations Commander Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Zaidi said.

Reporting by Baghdad bureau; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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