Wave of attacks in northern, central Iraq kill 24
Baghdad: Insurgents on Thursday unleashed a wave of attacks that killed 24 people and wounded dozens in central and northern Iraq, the latest in a series of persistent strikes aimed at undermining the government's authority.
The bomb and shooting attacks made for the country's deadliest day in more than three weeks, rattling nerves as families prepared to gather for a holiday weekend.
More than 120 people have been killed in violence across the country since the start of August, showing that insurgents led by al Qaeda's Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last US troops left the country.
One of the day's deadliest attacks came around midday, when a car bomb struck near the local security forces' headquarters in the northern city of Daqouq. As police rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, killing seven policemen. Another 35 people were hurt, police said.
A car bomb in Baghdad's northeastern and mostly Shi’ite neighbourhood of Husseiniyah killed another seven people and wounded 31.
Iraqi officials are tightening security ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend.
Authorities are seeking to thwart a possible upsurge in violence as crowds gather in public places such as parks, shrines and mosques to mark the occasion.
"Our security forces have received intelligence that terrorist groups are planning and preparing for attacks during and after Eid," said Abdul-Karim Tharib, head of the Baghdad provincial council security committee.
"We ... Have taken all necessary measures to foil any terrorist activities during Eid."
An Interior Ministry official said security measures for the holiday will include an increased number of checkpoints and road closures near government offices, parks and shrines.