Suicide bombers targeting a government-backed militia opposed to al-Qaeda killed at least 44 people and wounded dozens in two separate attacks, Iraqi police in Baghdad said.
At least 40 people died and 35 were hurt in the first attack, which occurred as members of the Sons of Iraq militia were queuing to collect their monthly pay slips in Radwaniya, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) southwest of the capital, the police said in a statement.
In the second assault, four Sons of Iraq fighters were killed and seven others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest inside a house in al-Qaim, 550 kilometers west of Ramadi city in Anbar province.
The Sons of Iraq, also known as the Sahwa or the Awakening Councils, was organized by the American military in 2006. The U.S. hailed the decision of the fighters to turn against al- Qaeda as a key element in a country-wide decline in attacks.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite Muslim-led government took charge of the 90,000-strong force in 2008; since then it has complained of being mistreated. It has also been targeted by al-Qaeda in revenge attacks.
More than four months after an inconclusive parliamentary election on March 7, Iraq has no government as politicians continue to argue over the distribution of top posts. Iraqi leaders, including national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, have said the political vacuum is encouraging militants.