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Dozens killed in Baghdad funeral bombings

Dozens of people have been killed after bombers struck mourners at a funeral in Baghdad. This came as Kurds in northern Iraq went to the polls to elect a new regional assembly.

At least 65 people were killed and more than 100 others injured after two suicide bombers detonated their explosive devices outside a number of tents packed with mourners at a funeral in a Shiite neighbourhood of the Iraqi capital on Saturday.

Police said one of the blasts, which occurred in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, was the result of a car bomb, while the other bomber struck on foot. There were also unconfirmed reports of a third bombing after rescue workers had arrived at the scene.

This was one of the worst single attacks to be carried out in Iraq in recent years, but it comes amid a wave of violence in recent months. Sunni militants have been blamed for much of the violence targeting Shiites, which accelerated after a deadly crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the north of the country back in April.

According to United Nations figures, more than 4,000 Iraqis were killed in violence between April and August of this year. The Associated Press put the death toll this month alone at almost 500.

So far, Iraqi politicians have appeared powerless to end the bloodshed. Many mainstream political and religious leaders have appealed for calm.

Ray of hope in the north

Meanwhile, members of Iraq's Kurdish community went to the polls to elect a new regional parliament in the north of the country on Saturday. Around 2.8 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots across three provinces in the north.

The AFP news agency cited United Nations officials who said voting had gone smoothly and that voter turnout had been high. Final results were expected to be announced sometime in the next couple of days.

pfd/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)