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28 killed in Iraq bloodshed after deadly month

Iraqis cross a street in central Baghdad on December 1, 2013
Iraqis cross a street in central Baghdad on December 1, 2013

Attacks in Iraq including a suicide bomb at a funeral killed 28 people Sunday as figures showed nearly 950 died last month in spiralling violence despite ramped up security measures.

Iraq's worst protracted period of unrest since it emerged from gruesome Sunni-Shiite violence in 2006-2007 has sparked fears of a return to the sectarian bloodletting that killed tens of thousands of people.

Officials have adopted an array of measures aimed at halting the attacks -- focusing their efforts on resurgent Al-Qaeda front groups emboldened by the war in neighbouring Syria -- but their efforts have thus far failed to curb the daily violence.

On Sunday a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral of an anti-Qaeda fighter killed a day earlier near the restive confessionally mixed city of Baquba.

The blast at the graveyard in nearby Wajihiyah village killed 12 people and left another 45 wounded, police and a doctor said.

Mudher al-Shallal al-Araki, the 27-year-old who was being buried, had been a fighter in the Sahwa, the Sunni tribal militias that from late 2006 sided with US forces against their co-religionists in Al-Qaeda, helping to turn the tide of Iraq's insurgency.

Sunni militants regard the Sahwa as traitors and often target them.

Araki's father was a leader in the Sahwa and a sheikh of the Arakiya tribe.

Twin bombings in Saadiyah, which like Wajihiyah lies in Diyala province, killed five more people while violence in Baghdad and the Sunni towns and cities of Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Mosul and Hawijah left 11 others dead, officials said.

The bloodshed was the latest in a months-long spike in violence that has killed more than 6,100 people, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical reports.

New data from the health, interior and defence ministries showed that 948 people were killed in violence last month -- 852 civilians, 53 policemen and 43 soldiers.

The overall monthly toll was marginally down from October's multi-year high of 964, but November was still among Iraq's bloodiest months since 2008, when it was slowly emerging from the brutal sectarian unrest.

'Poor security measures' to blame

AFP's tally showed a decline in violence, but the overall toll of 692 dead was still among the highest this year.

Attacks hit all manner of targets nationwide, from civilians in cafes, restaurants and on football pitches to security forces and government officials in police stations, army bases and checkpoints.

"The policies of the state and the poor security measures are the reasons for what is happening in the country," said an electronics shop owner who identified himself only as Abu Mohammed.

"There should be tight security around the capital, instead of putting checkpoints on the streets," he said.

He blamed political infighting for much of the bloodshed, telling AFP: "Even terrorism, where did it come from? The situation would have been better if there were independent institutions working away from the interference of parties."

In troubling scenes reminiscent of the worst of Iraq's sectarian violence, dozens of bodies have been found in Baghdad and Sunni Arab areas north of the capital in recent days.

At the peak of sectarian fighting in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, Sunni and Shiite militias regularly carried out tit-for-tat kidnappings and assassinations, dumping scores of corpses in the streets on a daily basis.

"I am profoundly disturbed by the recent surge in execution-style killings that have been carried out in a particularly horrendous and unspeakable manner," UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to address Sunni allegations of mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

The authorities have meanwhile trumpeted recent security operations, and a month ago Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki used a US trip to push for greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems.

The rise in violence comes ahead of a general election due on April 30, Iraq's first parliamentary polls in four years.

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