Militants kill 22 in Iraq attacks
At least 22 people have been killed and dozens wounded when militants launched attacks in central and northern Iraq, the latest wave of strikes aimed at undermining the government's authority.
More than 100 people have been killed in violence across the country since the start of August, showing that insurgents led by al Qaida's Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last US troops left the country.
One of the bloodiest blows 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.
Today's carnage began with a pre-dawn attack against the house of a military officer near the northern city of Kirkuk. He escaped unharmed, but his brother was killed and six other family members wounded.
Hours later, a bomb in a parked car exploded near a string of restaurants, killing one and wounding 15. Another parked car bomb targeting a police patrol followed, injuring two policemen and two civilian bystanders.
A couple of hours later, two car bombs exploded simultaneously in a car park near a complex of government offices in the city's north, injuring four people.
Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kms) north of Baghdad, is home to a combustible mix of Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkomen. They all claim rights to the city and the oil-rich lands around it.
In Baghdad's mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Husseiniyah, a parked car erupted in an explosion that killed seven people. Another 31 people were injured.
Just north of the capital, in the Sunni city of Taji, yet another parked car bomb went off next to a passing police patrol, killing two civilians. Some 40 miles (65 kms) west of Baghdad, militants in speeding cars opened fire on a police patrol in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, killing four policemen and injuring three others.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of al Qaida's Iraqi branch. It has said it aims to reclaim areas from which it was routed by the US and its local allies. The violence comes a day after militants staged attacks in northern Iraq that left 13 people dead.