Some 70 college students, most of them Christians, were wounded Sunday and another Iraqi was killed when a convoy of school buses was attacked in a double bombing on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul.
"We were going for our education and they presented us with bombs," said Jamil Salahuddin Jamil, 25, a sophomore geography major, who was on board the lead bus. "I still do not know what they want from Christians."
The attack was a reminder of the threats in a part of the country claimed by Kurds and Arabs, where a resilient insurgency remains active and where U.S. soldiers still man checkpoints.
The convoy of about 20 buses was taking students from Christian towns in the Nineveh Plain, between Mosul and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region, back to classes at the University of Mosul.
The explosions occurred just after a checkpoint manned by U.S., Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, one of about two dozen such checkpoints that have been operating since the start of the year along the border between the Kurdish region and the rest of Iraq.
CIVILIAN CASUALTIES UP IN AFGHANISTAN
Civilian deaths in Afghanistan in the last month jumped by one-third over the same period a year ago, the Afghan government reported Sunday.
The surge in noncombatant fatalities is considered particularly worrisome before a major Western military offensive in Kandahar Province this spring and summer. Typically, intensified fighting between insurgents and foreign forces brings a corresponding spike in civilian casualties.
Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said 173 civilians were killed from March 21 to April 21, the most recent period for which figures are available. That represented a 33 percent increase from the same dates in 2009, ministry spokesman Zemari Bashary said.
Bashary said the deaths, coupled with the injuries of 380 civilians, were largely caused by explosions -- either suicide bombings or roadside bombs. The latest example of that came Sunday, when officials in Paktia province, near the Pakistan border, reported that a civilian minibus had hit an improvised explosive device, or IED, wrecking it and killing or maiming most of those aboard.
PAKISTAN ARMY HITS MILITANT COMPOUNDS
Pakistan Army helicopter gunships pounded insurgent hideouts in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 22 militants, a government official said. Samiullah Khan said the hideouts were in the Dabori area and its neighboring villages of the Orakzai tribal region near the Afghan border. He said the aerial strikes also destroyed six militant compounds. Pakistani forces launched an operation in Orakzai in mid-March to flush out militants who last year fled an army offensive in South Waziristan. The troops are believed to have retaken several areas from the Taliban in the region.