11 soldiers killed in Iraq clashes

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iol news pic BAG14_IRAQ-_0519_11 Reuters Iraqi security personnel take up positions during clashes with the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State group in the city of Ramadi.

Baghdad - Attacks north of Baghdad killed 11 Iraqi soldiers on Tuesday, the latest in a protracted surge in bloodshed just a day after officials announced results from April's parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term in office, has been held responsible by critics for the deterioration in security but he has blamed external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

In Tuesday's deadliest attack, gunmen opened fire on a bus transporting soldiers from the restive northern town of Suleiman Bek, according to local official Talib Mohammed al-Bayati.

Eight soldiers were killed and four were wounded, he said. The soldiers had been heading off on leave at the time.

Elsewhere, a vehicle rigged with explosives was set off by a suicide attacker in Salaheddin province, killing three soldiers and wounding seven.

Violence in Iraq is at its highest level since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal Sunni-Shiite confessional war that killed tens of thousands of people.

The authorities have trumpeted wide-ranging operations against militants and say that external factors are responsible for the surge in bloodshed.

But analysts and diplomats say the Shiite-led authorities must also do more to reach out to disgruntled minority Sunnis in order to undermine support for militancy.


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