Two bombings and a drive-by shooting killed eight people Monday, a reminder of Iraq’s ongoing instability on a day when President Barack Obama planned to outline progress toward the impending end of U.S. military operations in the country.
The latest violence and government figures showing that July was the deadliest month for Iraqis in more than two years revived persistent questions about the readiness by Iraqi security forces to take over from the Americans as the U.S. military draws down its forces and ends all combat operations at the end of the month.
They also confirm the widely spread belief that insurgents are taking advantage of a political impasse over forming a new government after a March 7 parliamentary election failed to produce a clear winner.
“Make no mistake: Our commitment in Iraq is changing, from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats,” Obama said in excerpts released ahead of a speech he will deliver later Monday.
The U.S. has repeatedly insisted Iraq is stable enough to proceed with the troop drawdown on schedule and violence has dramatically declined in Iraq since 2008. But attacks remain a daily occurrence, especially in Baghdad.
The U.S. plans to draw its forces in Iraq down to 50,000 by the end of this month and the last American soldier will leave by the end of next year. There are about 65,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq.
In the worst incident on Monday, suspected al-Qaida militants blew up the house of a policeman west of Baghdad and killed him, his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
The policeman’s house was blown up before dawn in the Karmah district outside the city of Fallujah while the family was sleeping, police and hospital officials said. Seven other family members, including four of the policeman’s sons, were wounded in the blast, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The police officials said they suspected al-Qaida militants were behind the attack. The militants have been targeting policemen and members of anti-al-Qaida Sunni militias, shaking the increasingly fragile security situation.
Separate attacks in Baghdad, including one targeting police, killed five more and wounded 15.
Police officials said a roadside bomb apparently targeting a police patrol missed and killed three civilians traveling in a car and wounded eight bystanders in the western part of Baghdad.
Shortly after midnight, police and hospital officials said gunmen in a car opened fire at a cafe in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Sadr City, killing two people and wounding seven.
Residents said the attack may have been the work of vigilantes angered by suspected drug use at the cafe.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Figures released by Iraqi authorities over the weekend showed that July was the deadliest month for Iraqis — 535 killed — since May 2008 when 563 were killed.
The figures, dismissed by the U.S. military as too high, deepened concerns over Iraq’s precarious security even as the political deadlock persists and the United States continues to draw down on its forces.