Wave of bombings hits Iraqi cities

People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in central Baghdad.

Iraqi insurgents unleashed a new wave of bombings across the country today, targeting security forces and civilians and killing at least 12 people, officials said.

Dozens more were wounded in the latest challenge to government efforts to promote a sense of stability.

In the first attack, a parked car bomb exploded near the offices of a Kurdish political party in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk, then another bomb went off as police and rescuers gathered, police said.

Five members of a security unit from the nearby self-ruled Kurdistan region were killed and four others wounded, officials said.

About an hour later, another parked car bomb hit an Iraqi army patrol in the Sunni-dominated town of Hawija to the west of Kirkuk, killing five soldiers and wounding four.

Kirkuk, 175 miles north of Baghdad, is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, all competing to control the city.

In the capital, a parked car bomb explosion shook the city centre during the morning rush hour, killing one civilian and wounding 10 others, police said.

The blast went off near the landmark Palestine and Ishtar Sheraton hotels, rattling buildings several blocks away. A series of co-ordinated attacks near the two hotels and others in Baghdad in January 2010 killed at least 37 people.

South of Baghdad, another parked car bomb went off in a market for villagers near the city of Hillah, killing one person and wounding 20 others, a police officer said.

Health official confirmed the casualty figures.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although suicide car bombings are a favourite tactic of Sunni militant groups such as al Qaida.

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