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16 die in mortar and bomb attacks

At least 16 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq overnight as authorities s truggle to stop the Sunni militants' blitz offensive.

A police officer said mortar rounds rained down on Shiite neighbourhoods in Mahmoudiya late last night, killing 11 civilians and injuring 31. The mixed Shiite-Sunni town is about 20 miles (30km) south of Baghdad.

And he said a roadside bomb struck an army patrol in the capital's western suburb of Abu Ghraib, killing two soldiers and three volunteers who took up arms following the Sunni militant push across Iraq in recent weeks. Eight people were wounded in that attack.

Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.

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