Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The death toll resulting from a car bomb attack in northern Iraq yesterday has reached 30. The bomb exploded in the town of Al Khalis, approximately 50 miles north of the country's capital, Baghdad. The attack comes eleven days after a series of attacks killed over one hundred people in one day. The country is currently experiencing instability as a result of an inconclusive election result in march, which left no power bloc with an overall majority with which to govern.

The blast happened outside a busy coffee shop in the early evening, killing 23 and wounding a further 53 immediately, though death toll rose on Friday and currently stands at at least 30. Many buildings suffered severe damage in the attack—a local police lieutenant told Reuters: "The roof of the coffee shop which was full of people also collapsed. We believe there are still people under the debris".

Iraqi police have launched an investigation into the attack and into how the car managed to get through a security checkpoint. The deputy governor of Diyala Province called for the sacking of police chiefs after the attack, the second in the town in as many months, and referring to the town as a "disaster zone".

The attacks were apparently aimed at Shia Muslims in the hope of provoking further sectarian violence and a reaction against Sunni Muslims. While violence in Iraq has drastically reduced since its height after to 2003 invasion, there are fears that the recent attacks are a sign that militants are regrouping in the light of the political power vacuum. There is speculation that Al Qaeda in Iraq, believed to be responsible for the most recent violence, have begun targeting more vulnerable towns and cities, away from Baghdad, where security is tighter.