Baghdad bombings: At least 18 killed, 53 wounded

A series of bombings in the Iraqi capital struck a crowded restaurant, a police patrol and several other targets, killing 18 people and wounding 53.

Baghdad: Bombs exploded at a crowded Baghdad restaurant and a near police patrol on Thursday, among attacks that killed at least 18 people and wounded 53 in Iraq`s bloodiest day in more than a month, police and hospital medics said.

Five blasts hit the capital, and the northern city of Mosul was the scene of a fatal shooting attack.

Violence has fallen in Iraq since a wave of sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007, but insurgents carry out frequent attacks on security forces and civilians to undermine the Shiite-led government. The violence threatens the stability of the country following the pullout of US forces in December.

In northwest Baghdad, a parked car exploded outside a busy restaurant in the Shiite neighbourhood of Shula, killing 13 people and wounding 37, police officials said.

Naseer Ali, owner of a grocery shop in Shula, said he was about 150 meters (yards) from the restaurant when the blast went off. Ali said he and others rushed to help the victims before the ambulances arrived.

"I was in my shop when I heard a powerful explosion, and everybody rushed to the explosion site," he said. "Part of the restaurant was damaged and the windows of the nearby shops were shattered. We saw several wounded people screaming for help."

Ali said he is worried the level of violence in Baghdad will return to what it was several years ago, in part because of the growing sectarian divide underlying a months long paralysis of Iraq`s government.

"The politicians are busy with their personal ambitions, and the insurgents are making use of this," said Ali, standing on the sidewalk, his shirt stained with blood.