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22 killed in third day of Iraq violence

10:16 Fri Jan 18 2013
AAP

A spate of bombings targeting Shi'ite Muslims across Iraq has killed 22 people, the latest in a spike in unrest amid weeks of anti-government protests and a political crisis engulfing the country.

The attacks marked the third consecutive day of violence, which has claimed 81 lives overall, including that of a Sunni Iraqi MP killed by a suicide bomber and 33 others who died in twin car bombs in an ethnically mixed northern city.

It comes as Iraq grapples with a long-running political dispute, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki facing protests hardening opposition against his rule and calls from many of his erstwhile government partners for his ouster.

No group has claimed responsibility for the latest bombings, but Sunni militants often launch attacks in a bid to destabilise the government and push Iraq back towards the sectarian violence that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.

The bloodiest of Thursday's blasts took place in Dujail, 60 kilometres north of Baghdad, where a car bomb outside a Shi'ite mosque killed nine people and wounded 56 others, said town mayor Mohammed Hassan.

A car bomb killed seven other people and wounded 17 near a football stadium on the outskirts of the predominantly Shi'ite city of Hilla, south of the capital, officials said.

Bombings also struck Baghdad, Hawija and Karbala, while two soldiers and two policemen were killed in separate shootings near the northern cities of Mosul and Tuz Khurmatu.

There were no casualties in Hawija but two people were killed and one wounded in a roadside bomb in north Baghdad.

And in Karbala, a Shi'ite shrine city south of the capital, 17 people were wounded, including eight Afghan Shi'ite pilgrims, in a morning blast, followed by two explosions in the evening that left at least seven more injured.