U.N. calls for restraint in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan. 16 (UPI) — Iraqi protesters and  political groups alike are called on to exercise their utmost restraint in  airing their grievances, the U.N. envoy to Iraq said.

At least five people were killed in violence Wednesday in Baghdad while car  bomb blasts in the restive northern city of Kirkuk left at least 19 others dead,  The New York Times reported.

Police said the target in Kirkuk may have been the local office of Masoud  Barzani, president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region. A  leader from the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Kirkuk told the U.S. newspaper  that the country was “witnessing a political crisis.”

Political turmoil descended on Iraq following the 2011 departure of U.S.  combat forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki charged his  vice president with operating a death squad and the Shiite leader has since  faced mounting calls to step down ahead of April elections.

The country’s finance minster escaped a recent assassination attempt and  Tuesday parliamentarian Ifan al-Issawi was slain during protests in the former  insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, the provincial capital of Anbar

Martin Kobler, U.N. special envoy to Iraq and head of the U.N. assistance  mission there, said all sides to the crisis in Iraq need to honor the rule of  law.

“I call again on all political forces to foil any attempt at instigating  strife and to demonstrate utmost restraint,” he said in a statement.

A protest movement has emerged in the western Sunni province of Anbar. Kobler  said protesters there should remain peaceful, while security forces are reminded  of their obligation to show restraint.