By IBON VILLELABEITIA
More than 30 people died in a string of attacks on Monday in and around Baghdad as militants kept up pressure on a U.S-backed crackdown aimed at improving security in the capital.
Ten people died in bombings in the city, a day after two bombs killed 60 people in a Shi’ite market area, the bloodiest attack since the crackdown began on Wednesday.
Violence flared on Monday in nearby parts of Iraq, leaving more than 20 people dead including 13 members of one family ambushed near Falluja on their way home from a funeral.
U.S. military officials had warned militants could strike in areas outside Baghdad while U.S. and Iraqi forces were focusing their efforts inside the capital.
In Monday’s deadliest attack, suspected al Qaeda militants pulled the family of mourners from a minibus in daylight and gunned them down, including two young boys, after finding out they were from a Sunni tribe opposed to al Qaeda, police said.
The western city of Falluja is in the Sunni Arab insurgent bastion of Anbar province.
In Ramadi, capital of Anbar, two suicide bombers killed 11 people when they targeted the house of Sattar al-Buzayi, a tribal leader who has led a government-backed effort to fight al Qaeda.
One suicide car bomb hit the blast walls outside his house, then a bomber blew up his truck near the house, witnesses said.
To the north of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber targeting the house of a local army chief killed five people, including a soldier, and wounded 10.
In central Baghdad, four people died when a bomb tore through a minibus in Karrada district, a mostly Shi’ite area where Christians also live.
A Reuters photographer saw four charred bodies lying on the street after the blast blew out the top of the bus.
In Baghdad’s southern suburb of Zaafaraniya, also a Shi’ite area, twin roadside bombs targeting a police patrol killed six people and wounded 40 others, police said.
Monday’s violence comes a day after two car bombs exploded in a packed shopping area of a mainly Shi’ite district of Baghdad, killing 60 people.
Two days earlier, Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, under pressure from Washington to rein in violence that has pitched Iraq to the brink of all-out civil war, had trumpeted what he called the “brilliant success” of the crackdown.
More than 110,000 Iraqi and U.S security forces are taking part in Operation Imposing Law, aimed at curbing rampant sectarian violence by Sunni insurgents and Shi’ite militias.
U.S. generals, mindful of a similar crackdown last year that failed, have been more cautious and warned any respite in violence might be temporary as militants adapt their tactics.
There had been a relative lull in sectarian and insurgent attacks in and near the capital since the operation, seen as a last-ditch attempt to avert war between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs.
The U.S. military has said it will take several months to know whether the crackdown has been successful.
(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Majid Hameed in Baghdad)
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