Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq
By Jamal Hashim, Zhang Wei
BAGHDAD, June 8 (Xinhua) -- At least 42 people were killed across Iraq in the latest violence on Friday, including twin car bombs in southern province of Basra and an assault on the house of a police officer in the volatile Diyala province.
In the deadliest violence, two car bomb explosions in quick succession struck a town in Iraq's southern province of Basra, killing at least 14 people and wounding some 30 others, a provincial police source said.
"One of the car bombs went off in a parking lot in the town of Qurnah, some 60 km north of Basra City. Minutes later another car bomb parking in a popular market was detonated," causing the casualties, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The blasts also damaged several nearby civilian cars and buildings in the sites of the explosions, according to the source.
Basra, where about 5,500 British troops are currently deployed,had enjoyed relative calm since Saddam Hussein was toppled in March 2003.
But recently tensions between local Shiites and the British army and among various Shiite factions themselves have been on the rise.
In the volatile Diyala province, gunmen attacked the house of a police officer, killing 14 people and kidnapping three children, a provincial police source said on Friday.
"Late on Thursday, gunmen stormed the house of Colonel Ali Dlayyan al-Jurani, police chief of Baquba's emergency police unit, in the town of Kan'an, some 25 km southeast of Baquba City," the source from Diyala police told Xinhua by telephone.
The attackers killed Jurani's wife, his brother and 12 of his bodyguards along with kidnapping three of his children, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jurani was not at home during the attack, he added.
Also on Friday, two senior police officers were killed and another wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Diyala province.
Diyala province, which stretches from Baghdad to the Iranian border to the east, has long been the hotbed of insurgency and sectarian violence since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
In other violence, at least 12 were killed and more than 20 others injured in the suicide car bomb attack near a Shiite mosque near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Friday, said police chief of the city.
"The reports said that 12 people were killed and some 20 others wounded, some of them are in critical condition," Brig. Gen. Burhan Taha told Xinhua by telephone.
A suicide bomber blew up his explosive-laden car among worshippers while they were leaving the Thaqalain Husseiniyah (Shiite mosque) after Friday prayers in the predominantly Shiite town of Dakok, some 35 km south of Kirkuk, Taha said.
Most of the victims were worshippers, he said, adding the powerful blast seriously damaged the mosque.
The oil-rich Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, and nearby towns are witnessing high ethnic tensions among Arab, Turkmen and Kurd ethnic, as the Kurds seek to annex the area to their autonomous region.
Violence griped the Iraq capital despite more than three monthsof a U.S.-led security crackdown, which has not achieved substantial progress in reducing violence in Iraq.
Following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday during his visit to Egypt, Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi described the situation in Iraq as "actually alarming".
The current situation in Iraq requires the Arabs to shoulder their responsibility, he said, calling on Arab countries to make more efforts for restoring peace and security in Iraq.