Two near-simultaneous attacks in the central Iraqi city of Kut killed 33 people Monday, the worst of a spate of nationwide violence that left 41 dead, just months ahead of a pullout of US forces.
The surge of attacks, in which nearly 90 people were wounded, raise questions over the capabilities of Iraq’s security forces after the country’s leaders agreed to open talks with Washington over a military training mission to last beyond a projected year-end American withdrawal.
In Monday’s deadliest attack, an explosives-packed car and a roadside bomb detonated minutes apart at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) in the centre of Kut, medical and security officials said.
“We have so far received 33 dead bodies and are now treating 52 injured,” said Ali Hussein, a doctor at Kut’s Al-Zahra hospital. He said there were women and children among the casualties.
A security official in the city said the explosions occurred in a crowded area in the centre of the city, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of the capital.
In the restive central Iraqi city of Baquba, north of Baghdad, four soldiers were killed by gunmen using silenced weapons targeting an Iraqi army checkpoint early Monday, according to an official in the provincial security command centre said.
Two other bomb blasts in Baquba wounded 14 people, the official said, and the provincial government offices have been evacuated.
And in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, also north of the capital, three policemen were killed and seven others injured when two suicide bombers detonated their explosives vests inside an anti-terror bureau in the city, an official in Salaheddin provincial operations command said.
The attacks occurred at 7:00 am (0400 GMT)
Another civilian was killed and 14 others were wounded by separate explosions in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk, police and a doctor at the city’s hospital said.
The attacks come after Iraqi leaders said on August 3 they would hold talks with the US over a security training mission to last beyond 2011, when all 47,000 American soldiers must withdraw under the terms of a 2008 bilateral security pact.
Violence in Iraq has declined from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 259 Iraqis were killed in attacks in July, the second-highest figure for 2011.