Turkey condems Iraq blasts, expresses solidarity with Turkmens
Turkey has condemned a series of bombings in Iraq this week that also killed senior Turkmen leaders, demanded Iraqi government take steps to restore peace and stability in the country. A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of demonstrators complaining about lack of security in an ethnically disputed northern Iraqi city on Tuesday, in the deadliest in a spate of attacks that killed at least 23 people. Iraq is weathering its deadliest outburst of violence since 2008, with more than 2,000 people killed since the start of April. The bloodshed appears to be largely the work of resurgent Sunni militants such as al-Qaeda, feeding off Sunni discontent with the Shiite-led government. In Tuesday's deadliest attack, at least one suicide bomber detonated his explosives up near Turkmen protesters who had set up tents in the city of Tuz Khormato. The Tuesday bombing killed at least 11 people and wounded 42. Among those killed were two Turkmen leaders, Ahmed Abdel-Wahed and Ali Hashem Mukhtar Oglou. Tuz Khormato sits in a band of territory contested by Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Baghdad. A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Ankara strongly condemns the attacks that target Iraq's peace and stability "no matter who the victims are." The statement expressed condolences to families of the victims and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu personally called Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Arshad Salihi and the family of Moukhtar Ouglu to express sympathy. Ankara said all segments in Iraq are being affected by terrorism and that it is clear that the attacks, lately centered in Tuz Khormato, is aimed sparking ethnic and sectarian conflict by attacking "unarmed Turkmen brothers." "We believe that Iraqi people won't be trapped in this game," the statement stressed. Tuesday's attacks struck as Iraqis were still cleaning up from a wave of evening bombings that targeted markets in and around Baghdad. Those attacks, which mainly hit Shiite or religiously mixed areas, and other blasts north of the capital Monday killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens of others. There has been no claim of responsibility for the latest attacks. Al-Qaeda's Iraq branch, which has been gaining strength in recent months, frequently targets Shiites, security forces and civil servants in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. Turkey also condemned the Monday's bombing and demanded Iraqi leaders immediately take necessary steps to restore peace and stability in the country. Ankara also stated that Turkey is ready to undertake what it needs to do to provide the security of Iraqi brothers, including Turkmens. The statement emphasized that the Turkmens have always been loyal to their country.