Bombing kills 32 at Baghdad cafe ahead of vote

AFP-JIJI, AP

A late-night bombing at a Baghdad cafe frequented by young men playing billiards and video games killed 32 people Thursday, just days before Iraq’s first elections since U.S. troops were withdrawn from the county.

It was single deadliest attack in Iraq in a month and came amid concerns over the credibility of Saturday’s provincial elections as the nation grapples with a spike in violence and an ongoing political crisis.

The bombing struck at 10 p.m. in the mostly Sunni Amriyah neighborhood and wounded more than 65 people, security and medical officials said. Among the dead were at least three children and one woman.

It went off at the Dubai cafe on the second floor of a small shopping mall. The area was filled with families, as the mall contains restaurants and clothes shops.

In the provincial elections Saturday, an estimated 13.8 million Iraqis are eligible to vote for more than 8,000 candidates, with 378 seats being contested.

Diplomats have raised questions over the credibility of the vote, as a spike in violence has left at least 14 candidates dead and a third of the country’s provinces are not even taking part.

Iraqi forces are solely responsible for security on election day, the first time they have been in charge during elections without support from American or other international forces since dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.