MOSUL: A car bomb targeting displaced members of a tiny Kurdish sect near Iraq’s main northern city of Mosul killed seven people on Monday, the latest in a spate of deadly attacks since US troops left a month ago.
The violence, hot on the heels of the storming of a police compound in west Iraq and a suicide attack on Shiite pilgrims in the south, comes with the country locked in a festering political row pitting the Shiite-led government against the main Sunni-backed political bloc.
The 8:00 am (0500 GMT) attack in the town of Bartala, in Nineveh province, struck inside the Al-Ghadir camp housing displaced members of the Shabak community, an army official and a medic at Mosul hospital said.
Seven people were killed, including an unspecified number of women and children, and four were wounded, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The medic said some of the casualties had been transferred to hospital in the nearby Kurdish regional capital Arbil, but did not give further details.
The Shabak community numbers about 30,000 people living in 35 villages in Nineveh, and many want to become part of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs.
The community was persecuted under ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq they were targeted several times by Al-Qaeda.
Levels of violence have declined dramatically in Mosul and nearby towns and villages, but the city was once an Al-Qaeda stronghold and it is widely cited as one of the places where the network’s Iraqi front still holds sway.
Monday’s violence came a day after insurgents mounted a wave of attacks in the western city of Ramadi before laying siege to a police compound; raising doubts about security forces’ capabilities after US forces completed their withdrawal last month.
The attack left seven policemen dead and 16 wounded the latest in violence that has killed more than 200 people in less than a month.
US troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, leaving behind an Iraqi security force that officials said could maintain internal security but not protect the country’s borders, air space or maritime territory.