At least 21 people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, according to police and the Iraqi interior ministry.
In the most severe attack on Wednesday, at least 12 people were killed and 60 others injured when a booby-trapped car and roadside bomb exploded nearly simultaenously in eastern New Baghdad, an Iraqi interior ministry spokesman said.
That blast came hours after four people were killed in an explosion in downtown Baghdad, and shortly after five people died in a car bombing near a secondary school in the northern Shaab neighbourhood.
The latest attacks came as the Iraqi military announced new measures to curb “the increasing number of terrorist attacks” in the city.
Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman, said greater efforts would be placed on intelligence gathering and pre-emptive strikes against suspected opposition fighters.
US soldiers killed
The latest attacks follow two days of morning rush hour bombings in Baghdad that have killed more than 30 people and wounded at least 70 others.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of bomb attacks in Baghdad this month, compared to previous months.
In the first nine days of November, there were at least 19 bombings in Baghdad, compared with 28 for all of October and 22 in September, according to the Associated Press.
|A booby-trapped car and roadside bomb exploded nearly simultaneously [EPA]
Also on Wednesday, an Iraqi soldier shot dead at least two Americans in the northern city of Mosul, the US military said.
"The soldiers were in the courtyard ... an Iraqi soldier entered and shot two soldiers, killing one, mortally wounding another, and then spraying the others," Major Peggy Kageleiry, the US army spokeswoman for northern Iraq, said.
"He was engaged by counter-fire and killed."
A local morgue said it had received the body of the Iraqi soldier, riddled with bullets.
Two local police sources and an Iraqi army source said a quarrel had broken out between the Iraqi and US soldiers at the joint station.
But Kageleiry denied there was any altercation before the shooting.
Security deal draft
Elsewhere in Mosul, unidentified men killed two sisters from a Christian family as they were waiting in front of their house, police said.
The upturn in violence in Iraq comes as US and Iraqi officials try to finalise a Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), which will set out the terms under which US forces will operate when a UN mandate expires on December 31, 2008.
US troops will remain in Iraq until the end of 2011, should Baghdad and Washington agree on the security pact but the majority Shia population has been critical of the draft deal.
If Baghdad and Washington do not find concord on the draft agreement, the US military will require a fresh UN mandate to remain in Iraq.
Several armed opposition groups in Iraq are looking to derail the deal by increasing the number of attacks against US and Iraqi forces, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an internet monitoring service.