10 killed in renewed Baghdad bloodshed; judge among those dead

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Gun and bomb attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday killed 10 people, including a senior judge, in part of a protracted surge in bloodshed ahead of April parliamentary elections.

The bloodshed came just a day after attacks in and around the capital killed 30, with the spike in unrest and a deadly weeks-long standoff in Anbar province sparking fears Iraq is slipping back into the brutal sectarian war that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007.

At least 10 people were killed and 16 others wounded in Tuesday's violence, according to security and medical officials.

Attacks struck across the capital, from a car bomb in the sprawling northeastern Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City, which killed four, to the killing of the son of a tribal leader in Jisr al-Diyala, south Baghdad.

In west Baghdad, militants gunned down Mr Muttar Hussein, a judge and member of the Higher Judicial Council, one of Iraq's top courts. Mr Hussein's driver was also killed.

The latest bloodshed came after attacks in and near the capital killed 30 people, including 27 who died in four evening car bombs, part of a spike in violence that has seen nearly 500 people die in just two weeks, according to an AFP tally.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the two days of unrest, but Sunni militants, including those linked to Al-Qaeda, often carry out coordinated attacks on civilian targets in and around Baghdad.

The violence comes as security forces and pro-government tribes are locked in a deadly standoff with militants tied to the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and allied tribes in Anbar, a mostly-desert area west of Baghdad that stretches to the Syrian border.

Gunmen hold an entire city and parts of another on Baghdad's doorstep - the first time they have exercised such open control in major cities since the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

It comes with parliamentary elections due on April 30. Diplomats, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, are urging the Shiite-led government to address the "root causes" of the violence and seek political reconciliation with the disaffected Sunni minority.