Two car bombings hit Baghdad

 

Two car bombs apparently targeted at the Shiite community have killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens in Baghdad.

One exploded near a police vehicle in the north-east Shiite district of al-Shaab, killing six people, including two policemen.

The second went off in the western neighbourhood of al-Muwasalat. Authorities said it was targeting Shiite pilgrims.

The evening explosions followed a roadside bomb blast in the morning in the Baghdad suburb of Awairij that explosion killed two Shiite pilgrims walking to the holy Shiite city of Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.

The attacks came as Iraqi officials remained locked in a political crisis loaded with sectarian overtones that erupted just as the last American troops were leaving in December.

At the heart of the crisis is an effort by the Shiite-led government to try Iraq's top Sunni official on terrorism charges.

The official, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, said that a demand he be turned over for trial in Baghdad is hurting efforts to end the country's political crisis.

Mr Al-Hashemi is staying in the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region, out of reach of state security forces. He is accused by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government of running a hit squad that assassinated government officials - a charge he denies.

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