Khaznah, Iraq: At least 41 people were killed and more than 230 wounded in a spate of bloody bomb attacks near the restive northern Iraqi city of Mosul and in the capital Baghdad on Monday, the police said.
In the deadliest single attack, two booby-trapped lorries exploded before dawn in the village of Khaznah, east of Mosul, leaving 23 people dead and 138 wounded.
The massive blasts levelled 35 houses and gouged deep craters in the ground in the prosperous village of 3,000, home to members of the tiny Shabak community, a sect of Kurdish origin.
“I was sleeping on the roof and I woke up as if there was an earthquake. After that I saw a plume of smoke and dust spreading everywhere,” resident Mohammed Kadhem, 37, told AFP.
“A minute later another bomb went off, knocking me off the roof onto the ground. I was struck unconscious by shrapnel and stones,” he said.
Falah Ridha, a 23-year-old nurse wounded in the attack, said he was the only survivor of 12 people in his family home.
“Eleven people in my family were killed when their house collapsed. All of them woke up after the first bomb, but the second bomb was very close to my house, it was like an earthquake,” he said.
“No one else escaped, just me.”
Mosul has been the frequent target of attacks despite a marked decline in violence elsewhere in the country, and US commanders describe it as the last urban bastion of Al-Qaeda loyalists in Iraq.
The country’s second city with a population of about 1.6 million, Mosul is mainly Sunni - both Arab and Kurdish - but it also has significant Christian and Shiite Turkmen minorities.
In Baghdad, two bombs went off as day labourers were gathering in the early morning looking for jobs, police and the interior ministry said.
The first bomb, hidden inside a bag of cement, exploded at Hay al-Amel in the west of the capital, killing seven people and injuring 46.
The second attack, a car bomb in Shurta Arbaa in the north of the city, killed nine people and wounded 36 others.
A third bombing attack on a market in the southern suburb of Saidiyah killed two people and wounded 14.
On Friday, a powerful car bomb blast killed at least 37 Shiite Muslims near a mosque in Mosul in a wave of attacks that also killed 10 people in Baghdad, threatening to plunge the country into a new round of sectarian conflict.
Despite a marked reduction in violence in recent months, attacks against security forces and civilians remain common in Baghdad, Mosul and in the ethnically divided northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The number of violent deaths fell by a third last month to 275 from 437 in June, following the pullout of US forces from urban areas.
The figure in May was 155, the lowest of any month since the invasion.
The Shabak community numbers about 30,000 people living in 35 villages in the province of Nineveh, and many want to become part of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs.
The Shabak community was persecuted under ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and after the US-led invasion of 2003 they were targeted on a number of occasions by Al-Qaeda.