A suicide bombing at the funeral of an Iraqi anti-Qaeda fighter killed 12 people today as figures showed nearly 950 people died last month in spiralling violence ahead of elections.
The violence, Iraq’s worst protracted period of unrest since it emerged from a gruesome Sunni-Shiite sectarian war, has sparked fears the country is slipping back into all-out bloodletting.
Officials have adopted an array of measures aimed at halting the attacks, focussing their efforts on resurgent al-Qaeda front groups emboldened by the war raging in neighbouring Syria.
Today, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral of an anti-al-Qaeda fighter who had been killed just a day earlier near the restive confessionally mixed city of Baquba.
The blast went off at the graveyard in the village of Wajihiyah where the funeral procession, which included relatives and tribesmen, for Mudher al-Shallal al-Araki had planned to bury the militiaman.
Overall, 12 people were killed and 28 others were wounded, according to a police colonel and Dr Hussein al-Tamimi from a nearby hospital.
The 27-year-old had been a fighter in the Sahwa, the militia formed of Sunni tribesmen that, from late 2006 began siding with US forces against their co-religionists in al-Qaeda, helping turn the tide of Iraq’s insurgency. But Sunni militants regard them as traitors and often target them for attacks.
His father was a leader in the Sahwa, and a sheikh of the Arakiya tribe. Violence west of Baghdad today also killed four other people, officials said.
The bloodshed was the latest in a months-long spike in violence that has left more than 6,100 people dead, according to a tally based on security and medical reports.
New data from the Iraqi ministries of health, interior and defence, meanwhile showed that 948 people were killed as a result of violence last month — 852 civilians, 53 policemen and 43 soldiers — while 1,349 others were wounded.
The overall monthly toll was marginally down on last month’s multi-year high of 964 but still among the bloodiest months in Iraq since 2008, when the country was slowly emerging from its brutal sectarian war.
AFP’s tally, meanwhile, also 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 visiting cafes, restaurants and public football pitches, to security forces and government officials in police stations, army bases and checkpoints.