BAGHDAD (AP) — Three attacks north of Baghdad Monday killed 25 people, including members of a Sunni militia that fights al-Qaida, officials said, in the latest of a growing surge of insurgent strikes that are plaguing Iraq.
The first attack illustrated that while Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence is in a dangerous upswing, there are other forces at play as well. Eight Sunni Muslim militiamen were snatched from their houses in the town of Mishahda and surrounding villages during the past two days and then killed, a police officer said. He said their bodies were left in an orchard on Monday with gunshot wounds. Some had their hands bound behind their backs.
The government-allied militiamen, or Sahwa, joined with U.S. troops to fight al-Qaida before the U.S. pullout in late 2011. Since then, they have been a frequent target for al-Qaida in Iraq, which considers them traitors. The town where the abductions took place, a former insurgent stronghold, is about 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the capital.
Sectarian violence also erupted Monday.
Shortly after sunset, a suicide bomber set off his explosive belt inside a Shiite mosque where a funeral was taking place, killing nine people and wounding 40 others. The attack took place in the town of Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Al-Qaida in Iraq frequently deploys car bombs and suicide bombers, often targeting Shiites and security forces.
Later, police a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a cafe in the restive city of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, killing eight people and wounding 20 others.
Health officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information to reporters.
Also Monday, the United Nations mission to Iraq said last month’s violence claimed the lives of 761 Iraqis and wounded 1,771 others. The statement said Baghdad province had the most casualties, with 258 people killed and 692 injured. It was followed by Salahuddin, Ninevah, Diyala and Anbar provinces in central and northern Iraq.
Violence increased sharply in April and May, with frequent bombings in civilian areas raising concerns that a widespread sectarian conflict might once again break out in Iraq. The bloodshed accelerated after a deadly April 23 crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest in the northern town of Hawija against the Shiite-led government.
Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed.