18 dead in attacks in Iraq`s Diyala

The deaths came just weeks before US troops are due to complete a withdrawal from Iraq.

Baquba: Attacks in Iraq`s confessionally mixed Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killed 18 people on Thursday, 10 of them in a market bombing in the town of Khalis, medical and security officials said.

The bloodshed came as US Vice President Joe Biden was in Iraq to usher in a new phase in relations between Washington and Baghdad nearly nine years after the US-led invasion.

"We counted 10 bodies and at least 20 wounded in the explosion of a car bomb parked near a vegetable market in Khalis," an Iraqi Army colonel said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The casualty toll was confirmed by a medic at the main hospital in the Diyala provincial capital, Baquba.

"We received 10 bodies and admitted 25 wounded. Two policemen were among them," said Dr Firaz al-Dulaimi.

In a separate attack, gunmen using silencers raided three homes in the Diyala village of Jil al-Said, south of Baquba, killing eight people, among them two commanders of an anti-Qaeda militia and members of their families, the Army colonel said.

They killed five people in one house, three in a second and wounded five in the third, the officer said.

In the capital, a roadside bomb in the mainly Sunni Arab neighbourhood of Adhamiyah wounded five people, an interior ministry official said.

The bloodshed came just weeks before US troops are due to a complete a withdrawal from Iraq that has raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to maintain security.

Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.


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