Six Killed in North Iraq Attacks

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Attacks on Monday killed six people in Iraq, as gunmen defied massive government operations to stem some of the worst violence to have hit the country in five years.

Security forces have mounted some of the biggest operations targeting militants since the 2011 withdrawal of American troops, but analysts and diplomats say Iraq is not tackling the root causes of the unrest.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has nevertheless vowed to press on with the campaign in a bid to combat the country's worst bloodshed since 2008, with more than 3,500 people killed since the start of the year and the interior ministry describing Iraq as a "battleground".

Monday's attacks concentrated in Mosul, a predominantly Sunni Arab city in northern Iraq that has long been one of the country's most violent areas.

Three workers in a carpentry shop were shot dead by militants, while two policemen were gunned down in a pre-dawn attack on a checkpoint, officials said.

Gunmen also killed a man from the small Kurdish sect known as Shabak outside his house in Mosul.

The 30,000-strong Shabak community is present in 35 villages in the Nineveh province near the border with Turkey, with many members wanting to join the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

The Shabak people speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs.

The community was persecuted under ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq they were targeted numerous times by al-Qaida.

Violence has markedly increased in 2013, with more than 3,500 people killed since the beginning of the year, according to an Agence France Presse tally.

The relentless bloodshed is the worst in five years and has raised fears Iraq could slip back into the all-out sectarian violence of 2006-2007.

Analysts and diplomats link the upsurge of attack to anger among Sunni Muslims over their alleged ill treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities, which they say has given Sunni militant groups more room to recruit and carry out attacks.

Security forces have been carrying out wide-ranging operations in multiple provinces including Baghdad, after brazen July assaults on two prisons, claimed by an al-Qaida front group, that freed hundreds of inmates.

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