Iraq offers hefty bounties for killing, capturing jihadists

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq, struggling to curb its worst violence in years, is offering bounties of up to US$25,000 (S$31,500) for killing or capturing a foreign jihadist fighter, state television reported Thursday.

The defence ministry is offering 20 million dinars to anyone who "kills a foreign terrorist from ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Al-Qaeda" and 30 million dinars to anyone who captures "a terrorist from among them," it reported.

ISIL is a powerful jihadist group that carries out frequent attacks in Iraq, and has also flourished across the border during Syria's bloody civil war.

The bounties are the latest in a series of measures Iraq has enacted in a bid to curb a year-long surge in violence, which has reached levels not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a brutal period of sectarian killings in which tens of thousands died.

Authorities have tried everything from wide-ranging operations against militants and offers of training and jobs for tribesmen who fight for the government, to restricting vehicle use in the capital.

But nothing has yet succeeded in bringing the rampant bloodshed under control.

Violence in Iraq has killed over 1,500 people so far this year, and left more than 6,800 dead in 2013, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

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