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Canadian prime minister makes surprise visit to Iraq as bombings kill 30 across the country

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BAGHDAD — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit Saturday to Iraq, pledging to continue Canada's support for the battle against the Islamic State group as bombings across the country killed at least 30 people.

The Canadian government has announced $139 million in additional aid to address the refugee crisis around the region precipitated by the fighting, in addition to the $67 million already committed to Iraq.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi received Harper in Baghdad. Canada is part of the U.S.-led international coalition supporting the Iraqi military with airstrikes and training.

"Canada will not stand idly by while ISIS threatens Canadians and commits barbaric acts of violence and injustice in Iraq against innocent civilians," Harper said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State group by an alternate acronym.

Al-Abadi hailed Canada's role in that coalition as "essential" and called on the international community to join forces against the extremist threat as "terrorism is not only threatening Iraq, but the region and the whole world."

PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, meets with his Iraqi counterpart Haydar al-Abadi at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, on Saturday, May 2, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, meets with his Iraqi counterpart Haydar al-Abadi at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, on Saturday, May 2, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Meanwhile Saturday, a suicide car bombing followed by another car bombing minutes later in Baghdad's popular Karrada neighborhood killed at least 17 people, police said. The bombs struck as restaurants and coffee shops were full of people, they said.

In eastern Diyala province, a roadside bomb killed five women and two children traveling in a minibus, police said. Islamic State fighters were largely driven out of the eastern province earlier this year but still plant roadside bombs.

In Anbar province, three soldiers and three militiamen were killed and nine were wounded when a suicide car bomber drove an explosive-rigged Humvee into their headquarters in the town of Garma, a police officer said.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

The killings came as the U.N. mission in Iraq reported that 812 Iraqis, including 277 members of security forces and allied militias, were killed in April.


Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.

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PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with his Iraqi counterpart Haydar al-Abadi at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, May 2, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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