Baghdad bomb attack kills 9

Attack comes as Iraqi army threatens to launch major assault on city of Falluja

Masked Sunni gunmen take up position in Fallujah city, western Iraq. The Iraqi army has started a large-scale campaign to expel militants linked to al-Qaeda from an area in the volatile western province of Anbar. Photograph: EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Masked Sunni gunmen take up position in Fallujah city, western Iraq. The Iraqi army has started a large-scale campaign to expel militants linked to al-Qaeda from an area in the volatile western province of Anbar. Photograph: EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Sun, Jan 12, 2014, 13:00

A car bomb exploded outside a bus terminal in central Baghdad today, killing at least nine people and wounding 16, police and medics said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack at the Allawi al-Hillah bus terminal but Sunni Islamist insurgents have been gaining ground over the past year in the western province of Anbar bordering Syria, where the militant group is also active.

Tensions have increased recently. Earlier this month, militants seized control of two cities in Sunni-dominated Anbar, raising the stakes in a confrontation with the Shia-led government, which has vowed to eradicate al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The Iraqi army has deployed tanks and artillery around Falluja, threatening to storm the town unless local tribesmen expel gunmen from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Ramadi, the provincial capital, was retaken by the army with the help of tribes in the area.

Bloodshed in Iraq has returned to its highest level in five years, a surge of violence partly fuelled by the war that began in Syria some months before U.S. forces ended their nine-year occupation of Iraq in 2011.

Reuters

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