73 killed, 148 injured in Iraq attacks

Baghdad, May 18 (IANS) A wave of bombing attacks struck war-torn Iraq Friday, leaving as many as 73 people dead and 148 injured, police and officials said.

At least 41 people were killed and 56 injured in two blasts, which hit almost simultaneously in Baquba, capital city of Diyala province, after the Friday prayer, reported Xinhua citing the city’s mayor Abdullah Hayali.

The two roadside bombs exploded near the Saroya mosque in Baquba, 65 km from Baghdad, and hit the Sunni worshipers while they were leaving the mosque after prayer, he said.

In another incident, at least 22 people were killed and 57 wounded in three roadside bomb attacks in the evening in Baghdad, a police source said.

A roadside bomb exploded in the Amiriya district in western Baghdad, killing 19 people and wounding 32, the police source said. Another roadside bomb in the Doraa district in southern Baghdad killed two people and wounded 20, he said.

A third roadside bomb exploded in the Gazaliyah district in western Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding five, the source added.

Meanwhile, two people were killed and 10 injured when, a roadside bomb struck a coffee shop in Fulluja city, some 50 km west of Baghdad.

In another incident, at least eight people were killed and 25 wounded in a roadside bomb blast which took place during a local official’s funeral in Madain town, some 30 km from capital city of Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.

No group had immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks.

The top UN official in Iraq Friday urged the Iraqi leaders to better protect civilians following a wave of bombings across the country in recent days, a spokesman told reporters in New York.

Martin Kobler, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq, urged Iraqi leaders to do everything possible to protect Iraqi civilians, as another wave of bombings hit the country during the past few days and claimed more innocent lives.

“Small children have been burned alive in cars and worshippers cut down outside their own mosques,” a UN official quoted Kobler as saying. “This is beyond unacceptable.”

The envoy stressed that it was the responsibility of all leaders to stop the bloodshed in Iraq and protect their citizens, the official added.

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