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Baghdad banks rocked by bomb attacks amid rising political tensions

The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, was rocked by two explosions on two banks late on Sunday in the latest in a series of politically-motivated attacks.

The government said that the bombs simultaneously went off at the privately-owned Cihan Bank and Kurdistan Bank in the Karrada neighbourhood.

Both banks are owned by a Kurdish businessman.

State authorities described the attacks as “cowardly” and said that they “aim to disturb security and stability,” adding that the culprits will be brought to justice.

Iraqi President Barham Salih, a Kurd, denounced the attacks as “criminal and terrorist acts threatening the stability and security.”

Mr Salih described the timing of the attacks as “suspicious.”

In recent days, there has been an atmosphere of rising political and security tension as political rivals have been at loggerheads over the formation of the new government.

Gunmen had thrown a hand grenade into the office of a Sunni politician in Baghdad’s southwestern neighbourhood of Sayyidiyah on Saturday. No casualties were reported and Abdul-Karim Abtan Al Jubouri, who is affiliated with the Taqadum party, was not in his office at the time of the incident.

Shortly before dawn on Friday, the offices of the Taqadum and the Azim coalition, headed by tycoon Khamis Al Khanjar, were attacked by militants on motorcycles.

The divide amongst the country’s political rivals has widened since October’s national elections, which saw the Sadrist bloc, a political group led by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, emerge as the biggest group, with 73 seats.

Meanwhile, pro-Iran groups suffered a major blow in the vote and were further angered when the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the two major Sunni parties joined forces with Mr Al Sadr to form the new government.