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Bombings in Iraq kill 14 – Seventh journalist killed in 3 months

middleast1KIRKUK: Bombings in Iraq, including two in a market and a third at a cemetery where victims of the earlier attack were to be buried, killed 14 people yesterday, officials said. In Tuz Khurmatu, 175 kilometres (110 miles) north of Baghdad, two bombs exploded in a livestock market, killing eight people and wounding 25.

As people gathered at a cemetery to bury the victims of the market blasts, another bomb went off, killing three people and wounding two. Militants in Iraq often attack places where crowds of people gather, including markets, cafes and mosques, in an effort to cause maximum casualties.

A number of funerals have also been attacked this year. Also yesterday, a roadside bomb killed two civilians in the northern province of Kirkuk, while another blast in the city of Mosul, also in north Iraq, killed a policeman and wounded another.

Friday's attacks came a day after three suicide bombers targeted Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and south of the capital, killing at least 36 people, as militants shot dead a family of five west of the city. Muhanad Mohammed, a journalist who worked for both foreign and Iraqi media, was among those killed in one of the suicide bombings on Thursday.

He was the seventh journalist to be killed in Iraq in less than three months. Violence has surged this year to levels not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict. More people were killed in the first eight days of this month than in the whole of December last year. And more than 6,600 people have been killed since the beginning of 2013, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

Meanwhile, Syria's Kurds will send two delegations to upcoming peace talks, one with the opposition coalition and another with representatives of President Bashar al-Assad, opposition leader Ahmed Jarba said yesterday.

Geneva meeting
"The Kurds will participate in the Geneva meeting in two delegations," Jarba, leader of the National Coalition, told AFP during a visit to the Kawergosk Syrian refugee camp in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. The Geneva 2 peace talks are scheduled to open in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22. There will be "a delegation within the (opposition) coalition and a regime delegation," Jarba said, without saying who was who.

But it seems likely that the Kurdish National Council (KNC), which is part of the opposition coalition, will attend with opposition representatives, while the People's Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK), which is seen as close to the regime, will accompany the government representatives.

The main group in the PCWK is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the most powerful armed Kurdish organisation in Syria. The KNC and PCWK, the two main Syrian Kurdish groups, have been at odds since the latter announced last month a transitional autonomous administration for Kurdish-majority areas of northeastern and northwestern Syria without the former's backing.

Since Tuesday, they have been holding talks in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, aimed at establishing a unified front ahead of the talks. "We held a series of meetings with our brothers in the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, with the aim of unifying the Kurdish stance more and more," KNC spokesman Nassereddin Ibrahim told AFP.

Ibrahim said the goal was still for an independent Kurdish delegation, but if that does not happen, "we will speak with a shared vision," and "the two delegations (will) represent the will of the Kurdish people in Syria, for the sake of a democratic Syria."

More than 126,000 people have been killed in the 33-month civil war. But Kurdish-majority areas of the country's northeast were relatively quiet until clashes broke out this year between Kurdish militia and jihadist rebels. The fighting pushed tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds across the border into Iraqi Kurdistan, which the United Nations says now hosts moe than 203,000 Syrian refugees, the vast majority of those in Iraq. - AFP


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This article was published on 20/12/2013