Iraq unrest: Deadly blast at Baquba political rally

Injured man being brought for treatment, 6 April Dozens of people were injured in the attack

A suicide bomb and grenade attack has killed at least 22 people and injured about 50 at a political rally in the eastern Iraqi city of Baquba.

A grenade was thrown into the crowd gathered inside a large tent and, seconds later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the same tent.

In recent weeks more than 11 candidates standing in this month's local elections have been shot dead.

Polls in two provinces have been postponed for security concerns.

But the attacks have not stopped, and they have affected candidates in other provinces as well, the BBC's Rami Ruhayem reports from Baghdad.

Opposition figures have accused the government of delaying the elections out of fear that anti-government candidates will sweep to victory, our reporter says.

Election vow

Sunni candidate Muthana al-Jourani was meeting supporters in Baquba, a city 60km (35 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

Baquba map

He was unhurt but his supporters were among the dead and injured.

Ahmad al-Hadlouj, 34, was injured in the attack.

He was quoted as saying by AP news agency that hundreds of people had gathered in a side street for the rally. His father, a member of the candidate's political bloc, was also wounded.

"This is our blood [shed] for the people," he said. "We will still participate in elections."

Baquba is the capital of Diyala province, which has been among the most violent in Iraq.

No group said immediately that it had carried out the attack but such incidents are usually blamed on al-Qaeda.

Violence has decreased in Iraq since the peak of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007 but bombings are still common.

The provincial elections on 20 April will be the first in Iraq since 2010.

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