Last updated: 19 April, 2013

Eight killed in Iraqi attacks on eve of polls

Mortars and a bombing north of Baghdad killed eight people on Friday, on the eve of Iraq’s first polls since US troops withdrew and a day after a blast in a cafe in the capital left 27 dead.

Four mortars struck the Abu Tamur mosque in the town of Khales, which lies in restive Diyala province, as worshippers were departing following mid-day Friday prayers, a police colonel and a doctor said.

The mortars killed seven people and wounded 12 others, they said.

And in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk, a bombing at a Shiite mosque that also houses offices of the political movement loyal to anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr killed one person and wounded 15, a Sadrist official and a medic said.

The latest attacks came after a bombing at a billiards cafe in west Baghdad killed 27 people late on Thursday night, the country’s deadliest single attack in a month.

The latest deaths bring to 118 the number of people killed since Sunday, an average of around 20 per day, according to AFP figures.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently carry out bombings in both Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods across Iraq, in a bid to undermine confidence in the government and security forces.

The violence comes ahead of Saturday’s provincial elections, Iraq’s first vote since March 2010 parliamentary polls, and the first since US forces withdrew from the country in December 2011.