BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The speaker of Iraq’s parliament narrowly escaped death on Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy close to the northern city of Mosul, his office said.
Usama al-Nujaifi, one of Iraq’s most senior Sunni Muslim politicians, was visiting al-Salam area south of Mosul when the bomb exploded, badly damaging a vehicle carrying his bodyguards, who were wounded, it said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The speaker’s convoy was targeted by a roadside bomb in an area with a heavy presence of armed forces,” Nujaifi’s office said in a statement.
Sunni Islamist militants have been regaining ground in Iraq, particularly in the western province of Anbar where they overran two cities on January 1.
Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed across the country, building on a trend of intensifying violence that made last year Iraq’s bloodiest since 2008, when sectarian warfare began to abate from its height.
In a separate incident, a car bomb exploded near a coffee shop in a mainly Shi‘ite district of southern Baghdad, killing three people, police and medical sources said. An army colonel was also killed by a bomb attached to his vehicle in central Baghdad, police said.
Near the northern city of Samarra, police said residents of al-Jillam village heard a powerful blast on Sunday evening and when police went to the site on Monday morning, they found the remains of a car bomb with pools of blood nearby.
Police said the scene suggested militants had been preparing an explosive device that blew up prematurely.
“Residents told us they counted 10 to 12 bodies of gunmen near the blast when they arrived, but hours later bodies were evacuated by a group of gunmen,” federal police captain Ali Abbas said.
Reporting by Ghazwan Hassan; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Janet Lawrence