Mortars strike Iraqi town, killing at least 22


BAGHDAD (AP) — A mortar attack in a town south of Iraq's capital killed at least 22 people Thursday and wounded more than 50, authorities said.

The five mortar rounds landed in a residential area of Musayyib, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said. The rounds struck a busy market, a residential building and a parking lot around 7 p.m. (1700 GMT, 11 a.m. EST) as people returned home from work and shopped, the officials said.

Police said it appeared the rounds came from the nearby Sunni-dominated town of Jurf al-Sakr, though it wasn't immediately clear who fire the rounds into Musayyib.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to release information to journalists.

Musayyib is in an area that holds a volatile mix of Sunnis and Shiites and was a flashpoint for some of the worst sectarian violence in past years. On Tuesday, a parked car bomb in the town killed five civilians and wounded 13, authorities said. In 2009, a female suicide bomber targeted Shiite pilgrims there, killing at least 40 people.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack Thursday, but it bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently use car bombs and suicide attacks in their bid to undermine confidence in the government. Such bombings have increased along with Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment and random arrests by the government.

Last year, Iraq saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year in Iraq.


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