Baghdad: A wave of attacks across Iraq, including twin car bombs in an ethnically mixed tinderbox city, killed 21 people on Wednesday as a year-long surge of violence showed no signs of a let-up.
Nearly 50 people were also wounded in the violence, in and around Baghdad, as well as in Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces to its north, all afflicted by near-daily bloodshed.
The attacks came a day after a suicide bomber killed a key anti-Qaeda leader battling militants in the conflict-hit province of Anbar.
In today`s deadliest incident, two vehicles rigged with explosives went off in the centre of Kirkuk, killing eight people and wounding nine, said provincial health chief Sabah Mohammed.
Kirkuk, an oil-rich ethnically diverse city, lies at the centre of a swathe of territory that Iraqi Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its three-province autonomous region over the objections of the central government in Baghdad.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Sunni militants frequently detonate bombs in the disputed territory, capitalising on poor communication between Kurdish and central government security forces.
Elsewhere in northern Iraq, a suicide truck bomb killed two people in Suleiman Bek, and a corpse booby-trapped with explosives killed a policeman in nearby Tuz Khurmatu.
Both towns, like Kirkuk, lie in the disputed territory, which stretches from Iraq`s border with Iran to its frontier with Syria.
In the adjoining province of Salaheddin, two separate bombings left a policeman and a soldier dead.
In the capital, a car bomb killed four people in a shopping area of the Sunni-majority neighbourhood of Saba Abkar, while separate attacks in different Sunni-dominated districts left two others dead.
On Baghdad`s northern outskirts, two policemen were killed by a roadside bomb.
Today`s violence came a day after a suicide bomber killed 11 people at a camp for families displaced from the conflict in the western desert province of Anbar, where security forces have struggled to retake territory from militants.