Iraqi police and soldiers parade in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad on March 29, 2014
Iraqi police and soldiers parade in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad on March 29, 2014 © Azhar Shallal - AFP/File
Iraqi police and soldiers parade in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad on March 29, 2014
Last updated: April 4, 2014

Iraq attacks kill nine as election looms

Violence across Iraq killed 17 people Friday while security forces killed another 15 militants in clashes south of Baghdad, the latest in a surge of bloodshed ahead of parliamentary elections.

The shootings and bombings, which also wounded dozens more, came with campaigning in full swing for the April 30 election and with violence at its highest level since 2008.

The unrest has been principally driven by anger in the Sunni Arab community over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government and security forces, as well as a spillover from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Apart from the capital, Friday's violence struck in predominantly Sunni areas of Nineveh, Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces to the north, and in Anbar to the west, while security forces engaged in a firefight with insurgents south of Baghdad, security and medical officials said.

The clashes, which broke out during attempted raids of militant strongholds in Yusifiyah, Latifiyah and Jurf al-Sakhr, left 15 militants dead, while three members of the security forces were also killed.

Elsewhere, a suicide bomber killed an army captain and his son when he blew himself up on the doorstep of the officer's home in Baiji, while bombings in Baghdad and in the northern provinces killed six others.

Gunmen also shot dead two anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen in Salaheddin's capital Tikrit.

In conflict-hit Anbar, army shelling of the militant-held town of Fallujah killed two people, while clashes between security forces and anti-government fighters in provincial capital Ramadi left two policemen dead.

Insurgents overran Fallujah and parts of Ramadi earlier this year.

While security forces have managed to wrest back control of most of Ramadi, Fallujah has been out of government control for about three months.

Militants also destroyed a bridge just north of the capital by setting off several bombs along it.

More than 2,300 people have been killed in Iraq so far this year, according to an AFP tally.

Diplomats have urged the government to reach out to the disaffected Sunni minority to undercut support for militancy.

But with the election looming, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Shiite leaders have been loath to be seen to make concessions.

Near-daily bloodshed is part of a long list of voter concerns that also include lengthy power cuts, poor wastewater treatment, rampant corruption and high unemployment.

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