37 killed in Iraq violence

Baghdad, March 9: Two separate attacks in Iraq’s continuing violence left 37 people dead and 126 injured Sunday.

Up to 34 people were killed and over 120 others wounded in a suicide car bomb attack at a crowded checkpoint south of Iraq’s capital Baghdad Sunday, Xinhua reported citing police and medical sources.

The attack occurred during the morning rush hours when a suicide car bomber blew up his explosives-laden car at a police checkpoint at the entrance of an archaeological site of ancient Babylon, just north of the city of Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua.

The huge blast set fire to more than 30 cars and damaged dozens of others, along with destroying the checkpoint buildings, the source said.

An official from Hilla hospital told Xinhua that his hospital “has received 34 bodies and more than 120 wounded people were admitted for treatment”.

Five policemen were among the killed and many others were among the wounded, in addition to many women and children, the source said.

“Some of the bodies were badly charred because many of the victims could not get out of their cars as their doors were shut by the pressure of the explosion,” the source added.

Meanwhile, the Iraqiya state-run channel reported that two of its employees working for the Hilla office were among those killed. The two were at the checkpoint heading from their homes in the town of Mussaiyab, some 50 km south of Baghdad, to the office in Hilla.

In a separate incident, gunmen opened fire at a minibus carrying employees of the government-owned North Oil Company near the city of Tuz-Khurmato, 200 km north of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding six others.

The assault occurred in the early hours of the day when the employees had left their homes for work.

Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.

IANS