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posted: 10/6/2013 10:45 AM

Iraq: 13 dead as blasts hit school, police post

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By Qassim Abdul-Zahra
Associated Press

BAGHDAD -- Suicide attackers blew up explosives-laden vehicles next to an elementary school and a police station in a small northern Iraqi village on Sunday, killing at least 13 people, many of them children.

The attacks are the latest in a relentless wave of killing that has made for Iraq's deadliest outburst of violence since 2008. The mounting death tolls are raising fears that the country is falling back into the spiral of violence that brought it to the edge of civil war in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

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Sunday's blasts struck in the morning at the start of the local work week in the Shiite Turkomen village of Qabak, just outside the town of Tal Afar. The wider area around the stricken village has long been a hotbed for hard-to-rout Sunni insurgents and a corridor for extremist fighters arriving from nearby Syria.

Police and hospital officials provided a toll of 13 killed and said that at least 67 others were wounded. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Tal Afar mayor Abdul Aal al-Obeidi said the village that was hit has only about 200 residents and that part of the school collapsed as a result of the blast. Among the dead are at least eight children, though others are believed to be trapped in the rubble, he said.

Tal Afar is 420 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

"We and Iraq are plagued by al-Qaida," al-Obeidi said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suicide bombers and car bombs are frequently used by al-Qaida's Iraq branch. It often targets Shiite civilians because it considers them heretics in its extremist ideology.

Authorities on Sunday raised the death toll from a bombing targeting Shiite pilgrims on the previous evening to 51, up from 42 previously. That attack happened in the largely Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad, which is joined to the Shiite district of Kazimiyah by a bridge spanning the Tigris River. That and other attacks Saturday left a total of 75 dead.

United Nations figures released this week showed that at least 979 people, most of them civilians, were killed last month alone.

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