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Attacks by Al-Qaeda militants kill at least 75 people in Iraq

Published time: January 15, 2014 09:08
Edited time: January 15, 2014 17:41
People gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's Ghazaliya district, January 15, 2014. (Reuters / Ahmed Saad)

People gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's Ghazaliya district, January 15, 2014. (Reuters / Ahmed Saad)

At least 75 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in a spate of attacks in Iraq. Authorities say the Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is to blame.

"The battle will be long and will continue. If we keep silent it means the creation of evil statelets that would wreak havoc with security in the region and the world," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on state television.

The deadliest attack occurred inside a funeral tent in the town of Buhruz, in the restive Diyala province in central Iraq, AFP reported Ahmed al-Azzawi, a doctor at the main hospital in the nearby provincial capital of Baquba as saying.

The blast claimed 18 lives and wounded a further 16 people, Reuters reports.

The funeral was being held for a member of the Sahwa, a grouping of Sunni tribal militias who fought alongside the US military from late 2006 against Al-Qaeda forces.

The Sahwa, or Awakening, are often targeted by Sunni militants who view them as traitors.

Baqubah, the capital of Iraq's Diyala province, is situated some 50 km (31 mi) to the northeast of Baghdad. During the US-led occupation of Iraq, Baquba was the scene of some of the heaviest militant activity, along with the Sunni strongholds of Fallujah, Ramadi, and Samarra.

Meanwhile, about half a dozen car bombs exploded across Baghdad on Wednesday, mostly in predominantly Shia districts, killing 40 people and wounding 88, according to police and medical officials.

ISIL - which aims to turn Iraq and Syria into an Islamic caliphate - has been making headway in its fight against rival sects and the government, and seized the city of Fallujah more than two weeks ago.

It was one of the chief perpetrators of violence throughout last year, which was the bloodiest since 2008 in the country, with almost 9,000 deaths.