Agence France Presse
Published — Sunday 7 April 2013
Last update 7 April 2013 3:22 am
BAQUBA: A coordinated attack involving a suicide bomber at an open-air election campaign meeting in central Iraq killed 25 people yesterday, the latest in a spike in unrest two weeks before provincial polls.
The assault raises further questions over the credibility of the election, Iraq’s first since 2010, and comes some 10 years after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein and aimed to usher in a stable democracy but instead unleashed brutal violence which continues to plague the country.
Supporters of Muthanna Ahmed Abdulwahid, a Sunni Arab candidate for the Azimun Ala Al-Bina (Determined to Build) party, a small local list, had been gathered at around lunchtime in the restive city of Baquba, 60 km north of Baghdad.
As they were meeting, a militant threw a grenade before a suicide bomber then blew himself up, a police colonel and a medic at Baquba hospital said.
At least 25 people were killed and 60 others were wounded, the officials said, though Abdulwahid appeared to have been unharmed.
Diyala province, of which Baquba is the capital, is among Iraq’s most violent — 560 people were killed there last year, according to Britain-based NGO Iraq Body Count, which said it suffered the highest per capita rate of civilian deaths in the country.
Also yesterday, a civilian was killed and two anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen were wounded in a bomb blast northwest of Baghdad, and security forces found the body of a policeman who had been kidnapped near the capital a day earlier.
Violence has spiked markedly ahead of the provincial elections, with 271 people killed in March, the highest such figure since August.