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Sixteen killed, MP wounded in Iraq attacks

November 28, 2011

Security forces gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion in the town of Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad. -AP Photo

BAGHDAD: At least 16 people were killed and more than 30 wounded, among them an Iraqi member of parliament, in a wave of bloody attacks in and near Baghdad on Monday, security officials and an MP said.

In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle near the main entrance of Hout prison in Taji north of Baghdad at about 0500 GMT, as family members gathered to visit inmates.

An interior ministry official said 13 people were killed and 28 wounded by the blast, while a defence ministry official put the toll at 12 dead and 26 wounded.

Justice ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi said six of the dead in Taji were police working under the ministry who were on their way to work at the prison.

The bomber “blew himself up on the highway near the prison, where family members of prisoners were gathering” before a visit, Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said.

Later on Monday, an Iraqi member of parliament was wounded and at least two other people were killed in an explosion near parliament in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Different tolls for the blast were reported.

“A mortar round landed near parliament's car park. One colleague, (MP) Muayid al-Tayyeb, was wounded,” MP Ali al-Shila told AFP.

The interior ministry official said two people were killed and seven wounded when a mortar round hit the car park.

A defence ministry official said three people were killed and four wounded by an explosion in a parliament parking area, but said that “it is not clear if it was a car bomb or a mortar shell.”

It was not immediately clear if the MP was included in the number of wounded given by the security officials. Differing tolls are common in the confusion following attacks in Iraq.

The interior ministry official also said that two people were killed and four wounded by a magnetic “sticky bomb” on a vehicle in the Mansur area in western Baghdad.

Monday's deaths raise the toll from a week of surging violence across Iraq to at least 60.

On Sunday, bomb and gun attacks killed four people and wounded nine, while the previous day 16 people were killed and 20 wounded in bombings and shootings in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the capital.

Three bombs exploded in the southern port city of Basra last Thursday, killing 19 people, including high-ranking army and police officers, and wounding at least 65.

And five people were killed in attacks in the disputed northern Iraq city of Kirkuk on November 22.

Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.

General Lloyd Austin, the top US commander in Iraq, has warned of “turbulence” on the security front as American forces depart and militant groups seek to take advantage of the vacuum.

“I think as we leave, you can expect to see some turbulence in security initially, and that's because you'll see various elements try to increase their freedom of movement and freedom of action,” Austin told reporters in Baghdad.

He specifically pointed to Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian-backed militias as threats.

American troops are set to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, bringing to a close an almost nine-year war that has left thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.