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Burst of Iraq Violence Amid Political Crisis

BAGHDAD — A series of attacks left at least 24 Iraqis dead on Tuesday, in the latest outbreak of violence amid a protracted political crisis.

In addition, a hostage was killed with his two kidnappers in a police operation west of Samarra, a police source said. It was unclear whether the hostage, the cousin of a member of Parliament, was killed by the kidnappers or the police.

Since last month, the country has witnessed almost daily episodes of sectarian-related violence at a time of increasing political strife. Protests, led mostly by Sunnis, that broke out against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have spread from Anbar Province to other areas of the country.

At the same time, the prospect of a resurgence in attacks by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown insurgent group, resurfaced as the group announced its support for the antigovernment demonstrations and the rights of Sunnis, and claimed responsibility for the assassination last week of a Sunni lawmaker, Efan al-Essawi.

The attacks on Tuesday included a suicide bomber’s blowing himself up at a military checkpoint in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, killing 2 soldiers and 3 civilians and wounding at least 20 people, the police said. Also, a bomb in a parked car exploded in the Baghdad neighborhood of Shula, where Shiites are a majority, killing 5 people and wounding 15.

Another car bomb was reported near a checkpoint in Taji, a suburb north of Baghdad, killing 7 and wounding 26, according to The Associated Press.

Near Baiji, about 155 miles north of the capital, gunmen killed two government employees and three guards who were carrying salaries between oil facilities, The A.P. said. The money was stolen.

In Tikrit, a police source said, gunmen killed an employee in the Ministry of Health and a member of the Awakening movement, the American-backed group of Sunni militias that switched sides to fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Mr. Essawi, the slain Sunni lawmaker, was also a leader of a local Awakening council.

He was killed as he was inspecting a road in Anbar on Jan. 15 when, officials said, a suicide attacker disguised as a worker approached Mr. Essawi and blew himself up, killing him and wounding one of his guards.

“Your mujahedeen sons will not let you down, as you will find them in front of you defending your religion and your rights,” said the Qaeda statement, posted Monday on a Qaeda Web site.

It referred to Mr. Essawi’s role in the Awakening movement, calling him a “criminal infidel” whom Al Qaeda killed “just like we killed a previous sheik of the shamed Awakening council.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Essawi’s largely Sunni bloc of lawmakers, Iraqiya, reiterated its commitment to boycotting sessions of Parliament in protest over the inability of the government to respond to the demands of the demonstrators. After Mr. Essawi’s killing, it also criticized Mr. Maliki’s government for its failure to provide adequate security. 

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