Suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq killed at least 33 people and wounded nearly 80 more today, officials said, the latest in an uptick in violence as the country counts down to crucial parliament elections later this month.
Over the past year, violence has surged in Iraq to levels unseen since 2008. The increase in deadly shootings and bombings has become the Shiite-led government's most serious challenge as the nation prepares to head to the polls on April 30, the first vote in Iraq since the US army withdrawal in 2011.
Today's deadliest attack took place south of Baghdad in the town of Suwayrah, where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint, killing 12 people, five policemen and seven civilians. A police officer said 19 people were wounded in the attack.
In the nearby town of Madain, about 20 kilometres (14 miles) southeast of Baghdad, another suicide car bomber struck an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers and two civilians, a second police officer said. Twelve other people were wounded, he said.
An Iraqi soldier was killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb struck their patrol in the northern town of Mishahda, 30 kilometres north of Baghdad, a police officer said. And in the town of Latifiyah, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, gunmen in speeding car went on a shooting spree, killing one civilian and wounding two, a police officer said.
Today, four more bombs struck various parts of Baghdad, killing at least 14 people and wounding 40, police said. Medical officials confirmed the causality figures.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media. Today's carnage came a day after at least 18 people and wounded nearly 50 across the country.
Those attacks included a coordinated assault on a private Shiite college in Baghdad in which a suicide bomber with an explosives belt attacked the main gate while three militants attacked the back gate of the college.