Baghdad: Three explosions in Baghdad, including a car bomb opposite the foreign ministry, killed 19 people on Wednesday, the latest in the worst surge of violence in nearly six years.
The attacks, which wounded dozens more, come as security forces battle militants in the western Anbar province, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a powerful jihadist group that has exploited the chaos in neighbouring Syria.
With violence at its highest level since 2008, diplomats have urged the Shiite-led government to reach out to Sunnis in order to undercut support for militancy, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line ahead of April`s parliamentary elections.
Today`s bombings, including a suicide attack, ripped through confessionally-mixed areas of the Iraqi capital during morning rush hour, killing at least 19 people and leaving 30 others wounded, security officials and a medical source said.
Among the attacks was a car bomb just opposite the foreign ministry on the edge of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, home to parliament and the US embassy.
A suicide bomber hit a restaurant, while a vehicle rigged with explosives was detonated in a market for car spare parts.
The toll could have been higher still, but security forces managed to defuse a roadside bomb near the oil ministry in central Baghdad.
Blood and pieces of flesh littered the scene at the restaurant attack. Soldiers said one of their comrades had wrapped his arms around the bomber in a bid to save others.
The area surrounding the foreign ministry in central Baghdad has been hit by explosions in the past, notably in August 2009, when a massive truck bomb devastated the building, and again ahead of an Arab summit in the Iraqi capital in 2012.
More than 1,000 people were killed in January of this year, according to government data, as security forces have struggled to curb bombings while also battling jihadists and other militants who have seized territory in the western Anbar province.