Dozens killed in Iraq election blasts

A series of bombs has exploded at a campaign

rally for a Shia group in Iraq's capital ahead of

the country's parliamentary election, killing at

least 31 people and wounding 56, police said.

Friday's explosions struck as some 10,000

people gathered at the Industrial Stadium in

eastern Baghdad for a rally of the Asaib Ahl al-

Haq group. The Shia group had planned to

announce at the rally its candidates for Iraq's

parliamentary election on Wednesday.

Police and medical officials said several of the

wounded were in critical condition. They spoke

on condition of anonymity as they were not

authorised to release the information.

Followers of Asaib Ahl al-Haq carried out

deadly attacks against US troops before their

withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and claimed

responsibility for the 2007 kidnapping of a

British contractor along with his four guards.

The group is backed by Iran and says it is

sending fighters to Syria.

Its leader, Sheik Qais al-Khazali, spent years in

US detention but was released after he was

handed over to the Iraqi government. At the

rally on Friday, he gave a brief address that

challenged the Sunni fighters holding two cities

in Anbar province.

Sectarian violence

Security guards jumped on Khazali and pushed

him away from the stadium after the blasts.

The blasts highlight the sectarian violence that

has plagued Iraq recently.

Last year, the death toll in the country climbed

to its highest levels since the worst of the

country's sectarian bloodletting between 2006

and 2008.

The UN said 8,868 people were killed in 2013,

and more than 1,400 people were killed in the

first two months of this year alone.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for

the attack, though an al-Qaeda spin-off group

known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the

Levant uses similar tactics.

The group and other Sunni fighters frequently

use car bombs and suicide attacks to target

public areas and government buildings in their

bid to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led

government and target Shia groups.

More than 9,000 candidates are taking part in

Wednesday's elections and will vie for 328

seats in parliament.

Parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province

won't take part in the election due the clashes

there between security forces and al-Qaeda-

inspired fighters.


Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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