Baghdad attacks kill, wound scores in deadliest day in month
Bomb and gun attacks mainly targeting security forces, including two suicide car bombs minutes apart on police stations, killed at least 19 people in Baghdad's deadliest day in more than a month.
The violence, in which nearly 70 people were also wounded, signalled the insurgents' ability to plan and carry out coordinated attacks on well-secured targets, as Iraq weighs its options over a post-2011 American military training mission.
Two suicide attackers detonated their explosives-packed vehicles at police stations in Hurriyah in north Baghdad, and Alwiyah in the centre of the capital at about 8:30 am (0530 GMT), killing at least 15, interior and defence ministry officials said.
"These attacks are a challenge against Iraq and the political process, because the terrorists want to confirm that they exist here just before the departure of US soldiers," said Baghdad provincial council member Mohammed al-Rubaie, who was at the scene of the Alwiyah explosion.
The official at the defence ministry put the toll for both attacks at 15 dead and 42 wounded.
The interior ministry official said the explosion in Alwiyah killed 13 people and wounded 25, while that attack in Hurriyah killed four people and wounded 23.
Rubaie confirmed that 13 were killed in the Alwiyah attack, including seven police, among them one woman. The bomber tried to enter the Alwiyah station but was blocked by concrete walls, he said.
Differing tolls are common in the confusion that follows major attacks in Iraq.
The attack seriously damaged the police station in Alwiyah, according to a correspondent, who said the explosion there created a crater in the street about four metres (yards) across and two metres deep. It also damaged a nearby primary school.
The street in front of the police station was closed from 2004, but was reopened about a month ago to facilitate the flow of traffic, Rubaie said.
Wednesday's attacks come with less than three months to go before a year-end withdrawal deadline for the roughly 43,500 US soldiers currently in Iraq, with Baghdad and Washington yet to reach any accord on a post-2011 training mission.
Another car bomb killed three people and wounded 11, including police, at Al-Ilam in southwest Baghdad, defence and interior ministry officials said.
Baghdad's Yarmuk hospital received six wounded from the explosion in Al-Ilam, among them a police major, a medical source said.
Another car bomb in Hurriyah killed one civilian and wounded an Iraqi army brigadier, nine of his bodyguards and two civilians, according to the officials.
The defence ministry official said the brigadier general was seriously wounded.
In other attacks, a magnetic "sticky bomb" wounded a police brigadier general in Al-Sulaykh in north Baghdad, while two police were wounded by shots from a silenced pistol in the Jihad neighbourhood in south Baghdad, said the interior ministry official.
The apparently coordinated attacks were the most deadly to hit the capital since August 28, when a suicide attack blamed on Al-Qaeda at Baghdad's biggest Sunni mosque killed 28 people, including an MP.
Despite a decline in violence nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, attacks remain common. A total of 185 Iraqis were killed in violence in September, according to official figures.