U.N. alarmed by growing violence in Iraq

Jan. 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The U.N. special envoy to Iraq said he was "alarmed" by the level of violence in the country as attacks Thursday left at least seven people dead.

A string of attacks across Iraq this week left dozens of people dead and more than 100 wounded. Some of the attacks were said to target the official of political parties in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk. Attacks Thursday left at least seven people dead, Voice of America reports.

Martin Kobler, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq and head of the assistance mission there, condemned the wave of attacks in the country.

"I am particularly alarmed that attacks in disputed internal areas further aggravate the tensions there," he said in a statement.

Control over the oil-rich city is a matter of contention between the Kurdish and central government of Iraq. Clashes were reported late last year between Kurdish forces, called Peshmerga, and federal troops in and around Kirkuk province and the so-called disputed territories, an area demarcated by a line from Sinjar in the northeast to Khanaqin near the Iranian border.

Kobler this week expressed similar concerns when an Iraqi lawmaker was killed during protests in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. The country's finance minister survived an assassination attempt last week.

The violence comes amid growing opposition to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Elections in Iraq are scheduled for April.

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