Iraq attacks kill 4 people amid political crisis

BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of attacks in Iraq on Wednesday targeting the homes of police officers and a member of a government-allied militia killed four people, including two children, officials said.

Police said six roadside bombs planted near houses belonging to security officers in Baqouba exploded as their families were sleeping. Two children died in the blasts and nine people were wounded.

The city, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, is a former stronghold of al-Qaida militants.

Also, police said gunmen stormed the house of a leader in the anti al-Qaida militia in the predominantly Sunni suburb of Abu Ghraib, west of the capital, killing him and his wife.

The man had been active in the Sahwa, or Sons of Iraq, a Sunni militia that was instrumental in turning the tide against al-Qaida in the country.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty toll. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Iraqi officials have warned of a resurgence of both Sunni and Shiite militants and an increase in violence following the U.S. troop withdrawal, which was completed last month.

The latest violence comes during a growing political crisis that erupted after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government issued an arrest warrant for the country’s top Sunni politician last month.

Al-Maliki’s main political rival, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, is boycotting parliament sessions and Cabinet meetings to protest what they say are efforts by the government to consolidate power and marginalize them.

Al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi, told reporters that the Cabinet voted Tuesday to declare the missing Iraqiya ministers “on leave.” That decision sidesteps for now the possibility that the boycotting ministers would be replaced.

Al-Moussawi said steps are being taken to try to persuade the Iraqiya lawmakers to return, though he didn’t provide specifics or say how long the government was willing to wait.

Also Wednesday, the United Nations secretary-general’s envoy to Iraq met with President Jalal Talabani and expressed his concerns about the political stalemate.

The U.N. official, Martin Kobler, urged Iraqi leaders to work together to solve the political crisis and said the U.N. is ready to support efforts “to promote confidence and trust” among the various factions.

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