Iraq bomb attacks leave 17 dead
A string of car bomb attacks in and around Baghdad has killed 17 people and wounded dozens.
The latest violence comes as Shia prime minister Nuri al-Maliki faces increasing pressure from a political crisis.
The most deadly explosions took place in Taji, 20km north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least seven people and wounding 24.
Another parked car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the Shia neighbourhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing 5 people and wounded 13, police and hospital sources said.
In Mahmudiya, a town 30km south of Baghdad, a car bomb attack near an army checkpoint killed five people, including two soldiers and wounded 14 more, including four soldiers.
Violence in Iraq has eased since the widespread sectarian carnage of 2006-2007, but Sunni Islamist insurgents still launch frequent attacks, seeking to reignite confrontation between the Shia majority, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds.
Shia premier Maliki's government is trying to ease mass Sunni protests that erupted a month ago and his central government is also locked in a dispute with the country's autonomous Kurdistan region over control of oilfields.
A teacher who saw the Taji attack, Nasseer Rahman (35) said he was sitting in a minibus waiting to pass the checkpoint when it happened about 100 yards away.
“The useless checkpoint was the reason for the high casualties because dozens of cars were backed up in long lines before the checkpoint that got hit,” he said. “As soon as the blast struck, we got off the minibus and ran to the site of the explosion. We saw several cars on fire and pools of blood, and everybody was screaming for help.”