BAGHDAD (AP) – Bombs planted inside the home of a policeman in northern Iraq exploded Saturday, killing him, his mother and one other resident, a security official said.
The bombing was one of several attacks around Iraq’s north that killed a total of nine people since Friday evening, a sign that authorities are struggling to maintain security as the country’s politicians clamor over the shape of a new government two months after an inconclusive election.
The early morning attack took place on a home in the town of Amirli, just south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and injured five other people.
The Kirkuk area is home to an uneasy mix of Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic groups. While violence has dropped dramatically over the years, a steady low-level unrest continues, fueled in large part by distrust and animosity between the country’s Kurds and Arabs, as well as Sunnis and Shiites.
Much of the drop in violence has been attributed to Sunni tribes forming so-called Awakening Councils and turning against their erstwhile Al Qaeda allies, dealing a massive blow to the insurgency.
The insurgents, however, continue to extract their revenge, and on Friday night gunmen firing from a speeding car killed four Awakening Council members at their checkpoint south of Kirkuk, according to a security official.
Four other members of the council were injured and the three gunmen escaped, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
“Armed men have started to destabilize the security situation and target the security forces, including the Awakening members,” said Sheik Hussein Ali, the head of the local branch of the Awakening Council in Hawija, west of Kirkuk.
“The members of Awakening are frustrated now because the government doesn’t take care of them and delays their salaries for many months,” he added.
The councils were once funded by the U.S. military, which has since turned that responsibility over to the Iraqi government, with mixed results.
Gunmen late Friday night also attacked a car in downtown Kirkuk carrying two members of the Peshmerga, the military force of the nearby Kurdish autonomous region, killing one and injuring the other, according to Col. Sherzad Morferi of the local police.
The steady violence in Iraq has also been accompanied by a rise in crime, especially kidnapping, which has evolved from a political act into a commercial enterprise.
The kidnapped teenage son of a wealthy Sufi sheik was found dead Saturday, said Brig. Gen. Najimulddin Kadir, the police chief of Sulaimaniyah, a Kurdish city in northern Iraq some 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Kirkuk.
Kidnappers took 16-year-old Mohammed Tahir Said on April 27 and demanded $250,000 ransom.
According to the police chief, there were complications in paying the ransom and so the kidnappers killed the boy.