Baghdad : An assault on a Baghdad court that included twin suicide bombings killed 22 people Thursday, the latest in a spate of explosions in Iraq`s capital since an election last month.
The blasts, one of which involved an attacker setting off a car bomb, came minutes apart during morning rush hour in the commercial district of Karrada, near a crossroads that is the site of a hospital, police headquarters and the court building.
In all, 22 people were killed and 36 were wounded, security and medical officials said, with a spokesman warning the toll could have been higher had security forces not managed to kill a third suicide attacker.
"What happened near the Karrada court was an attempt by terrorists to break into the court," said Baghdad security spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan, adding that security forces had "foiled" the assault.
Maan also added that "we lost some security forces" in the first blast, but did not say how many.
Ambulances rushed to the scene of the attacks as smoke rose above the city, while security forces closed off nearby roads, worsening already tight morning gridlock.
Elsewhere on Thursday, attacks outside Baghdad killed four people, officials said.
The violence comes two days after a wave of nationwide bloodshed, including nine car bombs in Baghdad alone, killed 42 people in Iraq`s deadliest day since the April 30 general election.
The security forces have trumpeted wide-ranging operations targeting militants, and on Thursday said they killed at least 80 militants, the vast majority of them west of Baghdad in areas that have been contested between government forces and insurgents.
Despite the authorities` claims that the offensives are having an impact, the violence has continued unabated.
Thursday`s bombings were the latest in a protracted surge in violence that has killed more than 3,300 people this year.
The authorities have blamed external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria for the rise in unrest, but analysts and diplomats say the Shiite-led government must do more to reach out to the disgruntled Sunni minority and undermine support for militancy.
Results from the election are not expected until later this month, but political parties have already begun manoeuvring to try to form alliances, with incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki bidding for a third term in power.
Maliki`s opponents blame the premier for a marked deterioration in security as well as what they say is insufficient improvement in basic services and rampant corruption.