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Scores dead in Baghdad blasts

June 7, 2014

A series of car bombs, mainly targeting Shiite areas of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, has left more than 60 people dead. The blasts follow a wave of violence across the country earlier in the day.

Symbolbild Irak Anschlag Bagdad
Image: picture-alliance/AP

Local authorities say the first attack hit Baghdad's commercial western district of Baiyaa. Five car bombings and one roadside bomb followed in quick succession across seven different areas of the capital. Police say the blasts all occurred within a one-hour period.

More than 60 people perished in Saturday's wave of car bombings.

University attacked

West of Baghdad in the city Ramadi, insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked Anbar University on Saturday, killing guards and blowing up a bridge leading to its main gate, police and state TV said. After taking students and staff hostage, security forces surrounded the building and reportedly exchanged gunfire with the militants.

The government forces "liberated all of the male and female student hostages from the dormitories in Anbar University" and retook control of entrance checkpoints, Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi told the AFP news agency in an emailed statement.

Al-Assadi did not say whether captured university staff had also been rescued, but state broadcaster Iraqiya reported all hostages had been freed.

Ramadi, where Anbar University is located, was one of two cities that were overrun at the beginning of the year by tribal and Sunni insurgents, including the ISIL. Security forces control central Ramadi, where government and city council offices are located, but outlying areas have often fallen under militant control.

Nearly 480,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Anbar province in the past six months, the United Nations has said.

Deadly violence in Mosul

In the northern city of Mosul, fighting between militants and security forces on Saturday killed at least 59 people. The unrest began on Friday morning in Mosul and elsewhere in Nineveh province, when at least 36 people were killed, and continued into the night.

The violence comes as militants are regaining ground in their fight against the Iraqi government. Three major militant operations in recent days have killed more than 100 people.

On Thursday, militants seized parts of the city of Samarra, north of the capital Baghdad. They were only forced back after a major house-to-house operation that included helicopter strikes, which left dozens of people dead.

Iraq is currently seeing its highest levels of violence since the 2006-2007 sectarian conflict between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority that left thousands of people dead. More than 900 people were killed last month, according to government and UN figures.

jlw,slk/dr (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)