"There was a suicide car bombing outside a home near Balad late on Thursday. Ten Iraqis were killed and 12 wounded," Major Wes Hayes said on Friday, adding that US-led forces had responded and the Iraqi authorities were now at the scene.

 

A series of deadly attacks in Iraq earlier on Thursday left more than 39 people dead, including four children, a municipal council leader and a bodyguard of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, police said.

 

At least 12 people were killed and 40 wounded in a massive explosion at a restaurant at 8am (0400 GMT) in Tuz Khurmatu, 88km south of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police lieutenant Sabah Hidayat said.

 

Deputy PM targeted

 

The bombing targeted the town's Baghdad Restaurant, where bodyguards of Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nouri Shaways were eating, police brigadier Sarhad Qadre said.

 

Shaways was not at the restaurant at the time of the blast, which left one his guards dead and six wounded.

 

Four Iraqis died after a car-bomb
attack on US vehicles in Kirkuk

The Army of Ansar al-Sunna, one of Iraq's most feared 
armed groups, claimed the attack in an internet statement.

 

Kurds, who want oil-rich Kirkuk to be part of their autonomous Kurdistan region, have been regularly targeted in attacks.

 

The blast set ablaze eight cars in the restaurant's car park, the focal point of a bloody, rubble-strewn scene that US and Iraqi police quickly cordoned off.

 

Shards of glass, shoes and splattered breakfast meals covered the restaurant's floor as emergency workers raced around overturned tables and wooden chairs in an effort to treat the casualties.

 

"The suicide bomber detonated his car outside Baghdad Restaurant where the bodyguards stopped for a while to eat breakfast while heading to (the northern city of) Sulaimaniyah from Baghdad," Colonel Abbas Mohamed Amin, chief of Tuz Khurmatu police, said.

   

Amin said that the car used in the attack was a white Toyota sedan and that the bomber followed the guards from Baghdad.

 

Kirkuk attack

 

Earlier in Kirkuk, a car bomber targeting two US consulate vehicles killed four Iraqi bystanders, including a child, and wounded eight others on Thursday, Qadre said.

 

The attack came as US diplomatic vehicles entered the complex of the Northern Oil Company.

Thursday's Mosul blast was the
latest in a long line of assaults

"A suicide car bomb exploded at the entrance to the complex shortly before 9am (0500 GMT) and soon after a convoy from the American consulate, which is housed inside, entered," said police officer Afran Hanna.

 

Elsewhere, two motorcycles strapped with explosives blew up in the centre of Mosul on Thursday, killing five people and wounding 13.

 

Police in the northern Iraqi city said the motorcycles were parked in a busy commercial street and detonated shortly after one another, although the target of the attack was not clear.

Four of those killed were civilians and one was a police officer, police said.

An alleged al-Qaida cell called the al-Bara bin Malek Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack on the internet. It wasn't possible to verify its authenticity.

 

Other attacks

 

In another attack, four Iraqis, including three children, were killed when a mortar shell fell on their house in al-Dura district, south of Baghdad.

 

The children, whose ages range between eight and 12 years old, were playing when the shell fell.

 

The shell also damaged the house and a parked car.

 

A Diyala council official was killed
in Thursday's Baquba attack

A few hours later, al-Dura was also the scene of another attack as an Iraqi police patrol came under fire.

 

A woman was killed in the crossfire.

 

Farther south in Baquba, about 60km northeast of Baghdad, another car bomb killed four people, including Hussein Alwan al-Tamimi, deputy head of Iraq's northeastern Diyala provincial council, police Colonel Mudhafar Muhammad said.

 

Al-Qaida's network in Iraq said it carried out the attack.

 

In the late afternoon, Iraq's Interior and Defence Ministries jointly said nine Iraqis were killed in a crowded market in Baghdad's ethnically mixed northern neighbourhood of Hurriyah by armed men firing randomly from three speeding cars.

 

US soldiers killed

 

The US military announced that two US soldiers assigned to the Marines were killed when a bomb struck their vehicle on Wednesday near the western Iraqi city of Ramadi.

 

Another US soldier, attached to Task Force Liberty, died of non-battle-related wounds on Wednesday in the northern city of Kirkuk, the military said. The incident is under investigation.

 

As of Thursday, at least 1668 US military personnel have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

 

Since March 2003, some 1668 US
soldiers have died in Iraq

The military also announced the toll from a mortar attack on a US shopping complex in Iraq, but did not specifiy its location.

 

Five members of the Georgia-based 48th Brigade Combat Team were among those injured in the attack.

 

Two of the soldiers were seriously injured and transferred to a medical facility in Germany, brigade spokeswoman 2nd Lieutenant Selena Owens said.

 

In total, 11 people were injured and one person died in the attack, Owens said.

 

A separate mortar hit where the 48th Brigade is based at about 10am (0700 GMT) on Wednesday. No one in the brigade was injured in that attack, Owens said.