MOSUL: A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle rigged with explosives in a village in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing 15 people, police and a doctor said.
The blast tore through a residential area of Al-Muwaffaqiyah, a village east of Mosul that is mainly populated by members of the small Shabak minority.
The 30,000-strong Shabak community mostly live near Iraq’s border with Turkey.
They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs, and are periodically targeted in attacks by militants.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.
The surge in violence, which has included sectarian attacks, has raised fears of a relapse into the intense sectarian bloodshed that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-2007.
Analysts say the Shiite-led government’s failure to address the grievances of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority — which complains of being excluded from government jobs and senior posts and of abuses by security forces — has driven the surge in unrest.
Violence worsened sharply after security forces stormed a Sunni anti-government protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23, sparking clashes in which dozens died.
The authorities have made some concessions aimed at placating anti-government protesters and Sunnis in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, but the underlying issues remain unaddressed.
With the latest attack, more than 330 people have been killed so far this month, and over 5,000 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.