Attacks including suicide bombings outside a provincial government compound killed 19 people in Iraq Wednesday, just weeks before a general election that will be a key test for security forces.
The latest violence comes a amid a protracted surge in bloodshed, fuelled primarily by widespread anger among the Sunni Arab minority, and by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
In the city of Ramadi, suicide bombers detonated one vehicle rigged with explosives at each of two entrances to a compound housing the Anbar province governor’s office, provincial council building and a military headquarters, security officials said.
The blasts killed three soldiers, a policeman and a civilian and wounded 12 more, the officials and a doctor said.
The twin attacks come as security forces struggle to regain control of Anbar, where anti-government fighters have held parts of provincial capital Ramadi and all of the city of Fallujah, to its east, since early January.
The crisis in the desert province erupted in late December when security forces dismantled Iraq’s main Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp just outside Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Militants subsequently seized parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, the first time anti-government forces have exercised such open control in major cities since the peak of the deadly violence that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.
In other violence on Wednesday, a car bombing in Sadr City in north Baghdad killed at least four people and wounded 11, while another in Mashtal in the capital’s east killed at least three and wounded nine, security and medical officials said.
And in the Shaab area of north Baghdad, gunmen shot a man dead near his home.
A mortar attack on a military base in Saba al-Bur, north of the capital, killed two soldiers and wounded nine, while a roadside bomb near a market in the area killed one person and wounded five, officials said.
Also north of Baghdad, gunmen killed two Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen in Tikrit, and a traffic policeman was shot dead in Mosul.
The security forces face a major test on April 30 when Iraqis vote in the first parliamentary election since American forces left at the end of 2011.
While they were able to keep violence to a minimum during provincial polls last year, the security forces have failed to halt a subsequent year-long surge in unrest.
Violence has killed at least 390 people this month and more than 2,600 so far this year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.