Last updated: 5 May, 2014

Iraq unrest kills nine as votes are counted

Attacks and shelling in Baghdad and northern and western Iraq killed nine people on Monday, officials said, as electoral authorities counted ballot papers from last week’s general election.

The bloodshed is the latest in a protracted surge in unrest that the government has blamed on external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Analysts and diplomats, however, say it is at least partly due to anger in the minority Sunni Arab community over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

In Fallujah, just a short drive west of Baghdad, shelling in various parts of the city killed four people and wounded another, according to Dr Ahmed Shami, chief medic at the main hospital.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the shelling, which began after midnight, but residents say the military indiscriminately targets the city with regular shelling. Defence officials say they are targeting militants.

In a sign of both the reach of anti-government militants and the weakness of security forces, all of Fallujah and shifting parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, farther west, have been out of government control since early January.

Elsewhere on Monday, two men were shot dead in Baghdad, and a car bomb near a restaurant north of the capital in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu killed at least three soldiers.

The bloodshed comes just days after a parliamentary election, with incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seeking a third term despite a dramatic deterioration in security and widespread political opposition.

More than 3,000 people have been killed already this year, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical reports.

The unrest is the worst since Iraq emerged from brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006 and 2007.