Two separate attacks left 12 people dead and at least 18 injured in the city of Mosul, 390 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives laden vehicle at a military checkpoint, killing 8 people and leaving 18 wounded, including soldiers. Reuters quotes an policeman, who they say was present at the scene but spoke to them on condition of anonymity, as saying “The blast destroyed everything. It looks like there was nothing here before the explosion.”
In another part of town police say that gunmen killed the bodyguard of a local Kurdish politician, along with three others. The attackers appear to have been professional and well organised, using weapons fitted with silencers.
Violence has been on the rise ever since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011. This has been stoked further by sectarian connections to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, and a recent surge in attack may be connected to provincial elections due to take place in April. The goverment of Prime Minister Mouri al-Maliki is under pressure from a mass protest movement amongst Sunni Muslims unhappy with his Shi’ite led government, and involved in a tense dispute with the autonomous Kurdish region in the north over oil rich territories claimed by both sides.