While insurgents opposed to the Baghdad government are regarded as weaker than in past years, they are still capable of launching periodic mass-casualty attacks across the country. The latest attacks came as Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a leading Sunni, was sentenced in absentia on Sunday to hang for murder, although the carnage began hours before the sentence was handed down.
In the deadliest attack, two car bombs exploded in a market on Sunday near the Imam Ali al-Sharqi shrine in southern Iraq, a security official said. Dr Ali al-Alaa, a Maysan province health department official, said the blasts killed 14 people and wounded 60. Before midnight on Saturday, gunmen assaulted an army checkpoint near Balad north of Baghdad and a roadside bomb exploded when additional soldiers arrived at the scene. Eleven soldiers, including two officers, were killed and eight wounded, an army colonel and a medical source at Balad hospital said. A police captain was also shot dead on Saturday night in the town of Garma, security and medical officials said.
Early on Sunday, a car bomb exploded in a car park at the state-owned North Oil Company in Kirkuk in north Iraq, after which two other bombings in the city killed 10 people and wounded 153, said Sadiq Omar Rasul, head of the Kirkuk health directorate. The two bombings in Kirkuk left body parts strewn in the streets, destroyed cars and damaged government buildings, an AFP correspondent said.
West of Kirkuk, a car bomb seriously wounded six soldiers, army Captain Taha Khalaf said, while another in Hawija, also west of the city, wounded two people, security and medical sources said. The volatile, oil-rich Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that the autonomous Kurdistan region wants to incorporate over opposition from Baghdad. Three car bombs exploded in predominantly Shiite areas of the Iraqi capital on Sunday night.