Senior judge among those wounded in Iraq attacks
BAGHDAD - A series of attacks in Baghdad and north Iraq killed 23 people on Sunday amid a surge in violence that authorities have failed to stem despite wide-ranging operations targeting militants.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to press on with his anti-insurgent campaign, which has reportedly led to the arrest of hundreds of alleged militants and the killing of dozens.
But analysts and diplomats say authorities have failed to tackle the root causes the worst violence since 2008, namely anger in the Sunni Arab community over perceived ill treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities and security forces.
Sunday's violence struck the Baghdad area and in predominantly Sunni Arab towns and cities to the north, but the deadliest of the attacks hit the capital.
A series of bombings -- two car bombs and a roadside bomb -- went off between 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) and 5:30 pm (1430 GMT) in Baghdad and its outskirts, killing nine people and wounding 22 others, officials said.
The blasts struck a variety of neighbourhoods across the city, and were the latest in a burgeoning trend of militant attacks in the afternoon and evening in Baghdad.
In previous years, deadly violence has typically been set off during morning rush hour when much of the capital is in gridlock.
Attacks on Sunday also hit Salaheddin, Nineveh and Diyala provinces to the north of Baghdad.
The deadliest of those occurred near the town of Balad, where a car bomb killed five people and wounded 21 others, among them a senior judge who was the apparent target of the blast, according to police and a doctor.
In restive Nineveh province, gunmen opened fire on a van ferrying soldiers from Baghdad to their unit in the provincial capital Mosul, killing five of them, an army officer and a doctor said.
Also in Nineveh, three separate attacks by gunmen left a soldier and two civilians dead, including a member of the Shabak minority.
The 30,000-strong Shabak community mostly lives near Iraq's border with Turkey.
They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs. Shabaks are frequently targeted in attacks by militants.
Two bombings at a house in Baquba, north of Baghdad, killed a child and wounded nine others, according to police and medical sources.
Violence has markedly increased in Iraq this year.
Attacks have killed more than 3,600 people since the beginning of 2013, according to figures compiled by AFP.
The surge in violence has raised concerns that Iraq is teetering on the brink of a return to the all-out sectarian war that left tens of thousands dead.
- Article updated to include Baghdad attacks.