Bombings strike Baghdad neighbourhoods
BAGHDAD - Bombings near a market and a restaurant in Baghdad killed six people on Thursday as the death toll for January topped 900, with no end in sight to Iraq's worst violence since 2008.
The protracted surge in bloodshed, coupled with a deadly standoff between security forces and anti-government fighters in Anbar province, has fuelled fears the country is slipping back into all-out conflict with elections looming in just three months.
Washington plans to sell Iraq 24 Apache attack helicopters to help the country fight militants, but foreign leaders have also urged the Shiite-led government to address long-term grievances in the disaffected Sunni community to undercut support for militancy.
Blasts struck the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Kasra and Talbiyah on Thursday morning, hours after several car bombs ripped through commercial areas of the capital.
The latest bombings killed at least six people and left 20 others wounded, security and medical officials said.
On Wednesday evening, car bombs in Baghdad went off in Talbiyah, Shuala and Baghdad Jadidah, leaving at least nine people dead and dozens more wounded.
Attacks on Wednesday also hit the outskirts of the capital, as well as the northern cities of Mosul and Tuz Khurmatu, killing seven more people.
At least 909 people have been killed so far this month as a result of violence in Iraq, more than three times the toll for January 2013, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials.
The bloodletting comes as security forces are locked in battles with militants, including those affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in Anbar, a mostly-Sunni desert region west of Baghdad that shares a border with Syria.
The standoff has forced more than 140,000 people to flee their homes, the UN refugee agency said, describing this as the worst displacement in Iraq since the 2006-2008 sectarian conflict.