At least 32 people have died in a suicide car bomb attack near a funeral procession in Baghdad – half of the victims policemen guarding the march – in the latest brazen attack since US troops withdrew from Iraq.
Police officials said the blast occurred in the mainly Shia district of Zafaraniyah, where mourners had gathered for the funeral of a person killed the day before. They said 65 people were wounded, including 16 policemen.
Salam Hussein, a 42-year-old grocery store owner in Zafaraniyah, said he was watching the procession when the blast blew out his store windows and injured one of his workers. "It was a huge explosion," he said.
Minutes later, gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Zafaraniyah, killing two policemen, officials said.
Across Iraq, at least 200 people have been killed in attacks by insurgents since the beginning of the year, raising concerns that the surge in violence and an escalating political crisis might deteriorate into civil war following the US military withdrawal in December. Most of the dead have been Shia pilgrims and members of Iraqi security forces.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack.
On Thursday, 17 people died in bombings around the country, including seven in attacks on Baghdad's two predominantly Sunni districts, suggesting that Shia militants could be retaliating amid fears of a sectarian conflict in the war-ravaged country.