Iraqis attend the funeral of victims of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's al-Qahira neighbourhood on August 24, 2013
Iraqis attend the funeral of victims of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's al-Qahira neighbourhood on August 24, 2013. Burials for the 28 people killed in a city park got under way even as authorities pressed operations against militants to stem growing violence. © Sabah Arar - AFP
Iraqis attend the funeral of victims of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad's al-Qahira neighbourhood on August 24, 2013
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Sabah Arar, AFP
Last updated: August 24, 2013

Baghdad funerals for 28 killed in park suicide bomb

Baghdad residents held funerals Saturday for victims of a suicide bombing that killed 28 people in a city park, even as authorities pressed operations against militants to stem growing violence.

Authorities have launched a fierce crackdown on militants blamed for a wave of nationwide attacks that has killed more than 3,600 people this year, but have faced criticism for not addressing the root causes of the violence.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to press on with the campaign, even as analysts and diplomats voice fears that Iraq is teetering on the edge of a return to the all-out sectarian war that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007.

Friday's violence killed 37 people, most of them in Baghdad.

In the worst attack, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a small park in the confessionally mixed north Baghdad neighbourhood of Qahira, where families were gathered in the evening.

The blast -- like many recent ones targeting crowded areas to inflict maximum casualties -- killed at least 28 people and wounded 58, security and medical officials said.

"This morning, there was a funeral for 30 people and many, many others were wounded, and most of them will die because nobody cares about them," said one of the mourners, Sharif Mohammed.

He slammed what he said was apathy among politicians and said: "Isn't this bloodshed enough for them?"

Nine other attacks in Baghdad, Mosul, Dujail and Hilla killed nine people on Friday.

The unrest continued on Saturday, killing eight people, including two police and a militant.

On Friday, Maliki issued two statements on violence in Lebanon and Syria but made no mention of the unrest at home.

The Friday attacks came as authorities announced the latest in a series of operations launched following brazen assaults on prisons near Baghdad last month, claimed by an Al-Qaeda front group. Officials say that enabled hundreds of prisoners to flee, including several senior militants.

Security forces arrested seven militants in northern Iraq, a statement from a joint army-police command centre said, including the self-styled minister of finance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an Al-Qaeda front group.

In recent weeks, officials have said they dismantled many militant training camps and bomb-making sites.

Maliki, who has vowed to pursue suspects across Iraq, said recently that dozens of militants were killed and more than 800 alleged militants arrested as a result of the operations.

But analysts and diplomats say authorities have failed to address the root of the problem -- namely anger among Iraq's Sunni Arab minority over their alleged ill-treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government.

Unrest has surged in Iraq this year to levels not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from the brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict.

In addition to major security problems, the government has also failed to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, and corruption is widespread.

And political squabbling has paralysed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.

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