International

Elementary school attack latest in wave of Iraq violence

Suicide bomber targeting Shias drives truck packed with explosives onto playground

Shi'ite pilgrims walk to the holy city of Kadhimiya during a religious ritual commemorating the anniversary of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad's death, in Baghdad October 6, 2013. A suicide bomber targeted these pilgrims and other Shias, killing around 30 people in the latest spate of attacks.
Saad Shalah/Reuters

Suicide attackers blew up explosives-laden vehicles next to an elementary school and a police station in a small northern Iraqi village on Sunday, killing at least 15 people, including many children, officials said. Police and medical sources said the attacker at the school drove the truck onto its playground. 

In another incident Sunday, a suicide bombing killed 12 Shia pilgrims in Baghdad. 

The attacks are the latest in a wave of killings that has made for Iraq's deadliest outburst of violence since 2008. The mounting death toll has raised fears that the country is falling back into the spiral of violence that brought it to the edge of civil war in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Sunday's blasts in the Shia Turkomen village of Qabak happened around 9:30 a.m., local time. The village is just outside the town of Tal Afar, 30 miles west of Mosul. The Baghdad suicide bombing happened just hours later. 

The area around Qabak has long been a hotbed for Sunni insurgents and a corridor for fighters arriving from nearby Syria.

One car bomb in the tiny village targeted an elementary school while children ages 6 to 12 were in class; another struck a nearby police station, Tal Afar mayor Abdul Aal al-Obeidi said. The dead included 12 children, the school principal and two policemen. Another 90 people were wounded, he said.

The village is home to only about 200 residents, and part of the single-story school collapsed as a result of the blast, he said. Tal Afar is 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.

"We and Iraq are plagued by al-Qaeda," al-Obeidi said.

"It's a tragedy. These innocent children were here to study. What sins did these children commit?"

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Attacks Saturday

The bombings Sunday come a day after at least 69 were killed in blasts and shootings across Baghdad and the city of Tikrit. The increase in the death toll from those and other attacks brought Saturdays total dead to 75.

Journalists, pilgrims and cafe patrons were among the victims of the attacks on Saturday.

The pilgrims were walking to a shrine to commemorate the death of Imam Mohammed al-Jawad, the ninth Shia imam.

A reporter and a cameraman working for Al-Sharqiya television channel were shot while working in Mosul, according to police.

United Nations figures released this week showed that at least 979 people, most of them civilians, were killed last month alone.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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