MOSUL (AFP) – A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle rigged with explosives in a village in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing 15 people, while two died in other attacks, officials said.
The suicide bombing tore through a residential area of Al-Muwaffaqiyah, a village east of Mosul that is mainly populated by members of the Shabak minority.
A bomb also exploded near the house of a Shabak family in Mosul itself, killing a child and wounding three people, while a policeman was gunned down in his home south of the city.
The 30,000-strong Shabak community mostly live near Iraq’s border with Turkey.
They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs, and are periodically targeted in attacks by militants.
Last month, another suicide bomber targeted a Shabak funeral near Mosul, killing 26 people and wounding 46.
UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov issued a statement condemning the attack in Al-Muwaffaqiyah “in the strongest terms,” saying “the United Nations pays particular attention to the protection of minority communities who continue suffering from heinous attacks, economic and social barriers.”
He added that “the recent rise in violence in the Nineveh province calls for urgent action and strengthened security cooperation between the Government of Iraq, the Nineveh provincial authorities and the Kurdish Regional Government,” which is responsible for the autonomous region bordering Nineveh.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.
The bloodshed, which has included sectarian attacks, has raised fears of a relapse into the intense bloodshed that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-2007.
Analysts say the Shiite-led government’s failure to address the grievances of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority — which complains of being excluded from government jobs and senior posts and of abuses by security forces — has driven the surge in unrest.
Violence worsened sharply after security forces stormed a Sunni anti-government protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23, sparking clashes in which dozens died.
The authorities have made some concessions aimed at placating anti-government protesters and Sunnis in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, but the underlying issues remain unaddressed.
With the latest attack, more than 340 people have been killed so far this month, and over 5,050 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
A study by university researchers in the United States, Canada and Baghdad released this month said nearly half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.