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Reports: At Least 25 Killed In Baghdad Attacks

At least 25 people were killed in a wave of bombings and shooting attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday, media reports citing Iraqi officials said.

They said a car bomb attack in Baghdad's downtown shopping district of Karradah during the morning rush hours killed at least nine people and injured more than 25 others. At least four similar bomb attacks targeting security forces and members of the Shia community were reported from the city neighborhoods.

Overnight, six policemen were shot dead in a drive-by shooting incident at a security checkpoint in northern Baghdad. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but authorities suspected involvement of al-Qaeda-backed Sunni insurgents.

Earlier this week, a suicide car bomb attack on a police academy in eastern Baghdad had left at least 18 people dead, mostly new police recruits and serving police officers.

Although violence has dropped across Iraq in recent years, the war-ravaged country still witnesses such attacks on a regular basis. Most of them are blamed on Sunni Islamist insurgents, who are still active in Iraq despite ongoing efforts to improve security.

The recent terror attacks come amid a Shia-Sunni power struggle stirred by a warrant issued for the arrest of Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges. Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad that targeted government and security officials, has denied the charges and is currently hiding in the northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Hashemi is a leader of the Sunni-backed political bloc al-Iraqiya headed by Ayad Allawi. The arrest warrant had earlier prompted al-Iraqiya and other Sunni political parties to boycott the Parliament as well as the Cabinet, alleging that Hashemi was framed to finish him off politically.

However, the Sunni lawmakers have since ended their boycott, raising hopes that the crisis might be resolved soon. Their boycott had earlier triggered fears of possible sectarian violence and threatened to derail the country's delicate power-sharing agreement after the recent withdrawal of American forces.

The last of U.S. combat troops left Iraq by the end of December, ending a decade-long American military presence since the 2001 invasion of the Middle East nation. The ending of the U.S. combat mission was in line with a bilateral security agreement that required the withdrawal of all American troops from the country by the end of 2011.

by RTT Staff Writer

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