BAGHDAD, Aug 16 (Reuters) - At least six people were killed when two bombs exploded at a popular restaurant in a predominantly Shi’ite Muslim neighbourhood of eastern Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi police said.
Around 18 people were wounded when the two bombs planted inside and outside of the restaurant exploded almost simultaneously, police said.
A string of bombings since U.S. forces withdrew from Iraqi cities at the end of June has called into question the ability of Iraqi security forces to protect the population from attacks by insurgents like Sunni militant group al Qaeda.
The bombings in Baghdad and near the volatile northern city of Mosul have largely targeted the Shi’ite majority, and appear aimed at reigniting the sectarian bloodshed between Sunnis and Shi’ites that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war.
Iraqi officials have also said they expect more attacks in the run-up to elections next year, in which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will seek a new mandate by claiming credit for a sharp fall in overall violence over the past year and a half.
Maliki has ordered most of the blast walls set up to protect shops, public buildings and neighbourhoods in Baghdad over the past years to be taken down by mid-September. The bombings have raised concerns among Iraqis that the move may be premature. (Writing by Michael Christie)