Iraq political row comes to Islamic State's advantage, premier warns

Iraq's deepening political crisis has come to the advantage of Islamic State, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned on Saturday, after the extremist militia claimed responsibility for a bloody week of bomb attacks in and around Baghdad.

Iraq has for months been locked in a crisis over forming a government of independents.

Last month, followers of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed parliament after it failed to vote for a cabinet list proposed by al-Abadi.

“Political differences and conflicts as well as obstructing the work of parliament have helped in the escalation of terrorist operations,” al-Abadi said at a ceremony in Baghdad, according to independent website Alsumaria News.

On Wednesday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in the capital which killed more than 90 people, marking Iraq's deadliest day so far this year.

On Friday, the radical Sunni group claimed an attack on a cafe in the mostly Shiite town of Balad, north of Baghdad, killing 13 people.

Al-Abadi, a Shiite politician, called on the country’s political blocs to “resort to dialogue” to help solve Iraq’s problems.

Under pressure from street protesters and religious clerics, al-Abadi is trying to form a new government of independent technocrats.

Major political blocs in parliament have repeatedly blocked the move, angering pro-reform protesters.

Iraqi governments have been formed along political and sectarian lines since the US-led 2003 invasion which deposed Saddam Hussein. Critics say the system contributes to corruption and incompetence of state institutions.

Government forces are engaged in a US-backed fight against Islamic State, which still controls key areas in Iraq's Sunni heartland in the west and north.

Islamic State suicide bombers on Saturday killed at least six security personnel in a town near the militant group's stronghold in western Iraq, a police official said.

At least 14 security troops and allied tribal fighters were injured in the attack, which targeted a residential, and government complex in the town of Amiriyat Fallujah, south of Fallujah, the Islamic State stronghold in the mostly Sunni western province of Anbar.

Anbar police spokesman Yasser al-Dulaimi told dpa that security forces killed nine of the attackers, who had earlier sneaked into Amiriyat Fallujah, around 50 kilometres west of the capital Baghdad.

The town houses government institutions relocated from Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar once controlled by Islamic State.

In December 2015, Iraq regained Ramadi from the al-Qaeda splinter group after it had held the city for seven months.

Last update: Sat, 14/05/2016 - 20:34

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