11 soldiers killed in Iraq clashes


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.

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Iraqi security personnel take up positions during clashes with the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State group in the city of Ramadi.

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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