Iraqi firefighters douse the fire after two car bombs exploded in Kirkuk on April 19, 2012, which left several people dead. Image Credit: AFP

Baghdad: A wave of bombing and shooting attacks in six different provinces across Iraq killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 150 on Thursday, security officials said.

It was the deadliest day in Iraq since March 20, when shootings and bombings claimed by Al Qaida front group the Islamic State of Iraq killed 50 people and wounded 255 nationwide.

Twenty-two civilians, eight police, three members of Sahwa anti-Qaida militia forces and two soldiers were killed in dozens of attacks, including 14 car bombings.
Bombings in and around Baghdad killed at least 17 people and wounded 97, an interior ministry official said.

A car bomb targeting Health Minister Majid Hamed Amin's convoy in Haifa Street in the heart of the capital, killed two civilians and wounded nine people, including four of the minister's guards.

Another car bomb in the Al-Amil neighbourhood of south Baghdad killed two people and wounded 17.

Two people were killed and four wounded in a car bomb against a checkpoint in Palestine Street in the east of the capital, while a fourth car bomb in Kadhimiyah, a Shiite shrine district in north Baghdad, killed three people and wounded 20.

A car bomb against a Turkmen social club on Palestine Street killed two people and wounded six, and a roadside bomb in Zafraniyah in central Baghdad wounded six.
In Taji, north of the capital, two roadside bombs killed one person and wounded five, while two car bombs and a suicide bombing killed five people and wounded 24.

In Tarmiyah, also north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle by an army base, killing one soldier and wounding six.

In northern Iraq, bombings in Kirkuk province killed nine people and wounded 24, high-ranking police officers said.

A car bomb against the convoy of police Brigadier General Taha Salaheddin south of Kirkuk city killed two police and wounded 15 other people.

Another car bomb in the city centre killed two police and wounded three, a high-ranking police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Six bombs against houses in the town of Malha, 40 kilometres northwest of Kirkuk, killed five people including an army major and wounded six, police Brigadier General Sarhad Qader said.

And in Ramadi in Anbar province, west of the capital, two car bombs against police patrols killed one person and wounded nine, a police source said.

In Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, a suicide bomber blew himself up in home of police First Lieutenant Mohammed Al Tamimi, killing him and wounding four family members, an Iraqi army lieutenant colonel and Dr Ahmed Ibrahim of Baquba General Hospital said.

A suicide car bomb against a police checkpoint in the city centre killed two policemen and wounded two other people.

Another policeman was killed by gunmen in the town of Al Mansuriyah north of Baquba, while a bomb against a home in the town wounded three people.

A bomb targeting a home in Ghalbiyah, west of Baquba, also wounded three people.
In Samarra, in Salaheddin province, two car bombs exploded near checkpoints of anti-Qaida Sahwa militiamen, killing three people and wounding six, militia commander Majid Abdullah and a police lieutenant colonel said.

And a bomb in a restaurant in the main northern city of Mosul, capital of Nineveh province, wounded three people, a police captain said.

Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks still continue across the country. In March, 112 Iraqis were killed, government figures showed.






UAE telco Etisalat to offer internet calls by second quarter of 2012

Etisalat to offer internet calls by end of June 2012




UAE telecoms operator Etisalat will offer internet-based phone calls by June end


Dubai: UAE telecoms operator Etisalat will offer internet-based phone calls by the end of the second quarter, a top executive told Reuters.

In the UAE, only Etisalat and du are licenced for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services - free Internet-to-Internet calls and cheap Internet-to-phone calls - and both have yet to do so as they try to maximise earnings from conventional calls.

Global market leader Skype is among the foreign VoIP providers officially banned.

In October, Etisalat unveiled plans to offer VoIP as part of its ePlus mobile platform that will likely include social networking, internet browsing and instant messaging, but six months later its customers are still waiting.

Essa Haddad, Etisalat's chief commercial officer, said "we are talking about quarter two, 2012", when Reuters asked when the company would launch international VoIP services.

Haddad declined to indicate how much cheaper Etisalat's VoIP calls would be compared with its usual international tariffs.

"Any price change has to be (approved) by the regulator and that's why it's taking time because we need to get this finalised," he told Reuters.

Previously, the telecoms regulator has indicated it would not allow significantly cheaper VoIP tariffs.

Faced with this challenge, Etisalat has bet its ePlus platform will improve customer loyalty and stem the flow of subscribers to du, which has built up an estimated 46 per cent share of mobile subscribers since launching services in 2007.

Etisalat, which operates in 17 markets, has reported declining earnings in seven of the past eight quarters, with the rise of du and VoIP key factors in this slump.

The firm derived 74 per cent of its revenue and 97 per cent of net profit from the UAE in 2011, according to a presentation to analysts.