Egypt Independent

Iraq attacks kill at least 13

Bombings and shootings killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 50 across Iraq on Friday, security and medical officials said in a month that has seen at least 220 people killed in violence nationwide.

Two motorcycles rigged with explosives exploded at the same time in two markets and a third went off near a police station in Balad north of Baghdad late on Friday, police said.

Mohammed Radhi, a member of the Salaheddin provincial council, said seven people were killed and 50 wounded in the blasts.

A medical source at Balad hospital confirmed the toll, saying that some of the wounded were moved to Baghdad, some 70 kilometers south because their injuries were so serious.

Earlier, gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Khan Bani Saad south of the city of Baquba, killing four Sahwa militiamen and wounding four, a militia commander said, adding that the assailants escaped.

A roadside bomb targeting a patrol in Baquba itself killed one soldier and wounded another, an army major said.

Doctor Ahmed Ibrahim of Baquba General Hospital confirmed the tolls.

And gunmen armed with automatic weapons opened fire on a civilian car north of Baquba, killing the driver, police said.

Friday's deaths brought the number of people killed in attacks since 13 June to at least 220 — an average of almost 13 per day. That is a far higher toll than the 132 official figures show were killed in May.

Much of the violence has occurred in and around Baquba, the capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad.

On Thursday, a car bomb exploded near a Shiite place of worship in Baquba, killing six people and wounding 51, while two people were killed and four wounded in another bombing and three more wounded in an attack near the city.

On 18 June, a suicide bomber killed 22 people in an attack on Shiite mourners in Baquba, and 10 people were killed in a series of attacks in and around the city on 13 June.

Iraqi army Colonel Mohammed al-Tamimi of the Diyala Operations Command said Al-Qaeda was behind the attacks.

"Many attacks occurred recently in Diyala province and the Al-Qaeda organisation stands behind them," Tamimi told AFP.

"Our security forces will continue to target the hideouts of the perpetrators of the terrorist operations who frequently target innocent civilians," Tamimi said.

Violence in Iraq has declined significantly since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks still remain common.