Last updated: 28 February, 2013

Bombings kill 23 in Baghdad area

Bombings in and around Baghdad, including two car bombs near a football field, killed at least 23 people on Thursday, while three people were shot dead in north Iraq, security and medical officials said.

With the latest violence, more than 210 people have been killed and over 550 wounded in attacks in February, according to an AFP toll based on security and medical sources.

An interior ministry official said one car bomb exploded near a football field in the Shuala area of Baghdad, followed by a second after security forces arrived at the scene.

The blasts killed at least 19 people and wounded another 30, medical officials said.

In Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, a militant detonated a hand grenade when people attempted to arrest him, and five bombs exploded nearby, killing at least two people and wounding at least seven, security and medical officials said.

Two roadside bombs also exploded in the Shurta al-Rabea area of south Baghdad, killing one person and wounding seven, while a car bomb in Aziziyah, southeast of Baghdad, killed one person and wounded 17, officials said.

And gunmen killed a commander in the anti-Qaeda Sahwa militia and another militiaman, while a sniper shot dead an Iraqi soldier, both west of the city of Kirkuk in north Iraq, security officials and a doctor said.

No group claimed responsibility for the string of attacks.

Violence in Iraq is down significantly from its 2006-2007 peak, but even 10 years after the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, attacks still occur almost every day.

The attacks come as Iraq grapples with weeks of anti-government protests centered on Sunni-majority areas in the north and west of the country, calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

The demonstrations were initially sparked in December by the arrest of several guards of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, a leading Sunni.

The protests have since expanded, and the government has sought to curtail them by saying it has released thousands of detainees and raised the salaries of Sunni militiamen battling Al-Qaeda militants.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said on Thursday that 4,000 prisoners have been released since the start of the year, some of whom can request compensation if they are not guilty of a crime.