|The blast in Taji comes less than two weeks after a triple bombing in the city of Basra left 19 people dead [File:AFP]
A suicide car bomb has exploded outside an Iraqi jail north of Baghdad, killing at least 19 people, including 11 prison guards, and injuring more than 20 others, according to officials.
The bomber struck on Monday morning when many employees and guards were on their way to work at the al-Hout prison in the town of Taji, located at an estimated 25km north of the capital, police and hospital officials said.
The bomber "blew himself up on the highway near the prison, where family members of prisoners were gathering" before visiting inmates, Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said.
In another incident, two people were killed in a mortar attack near parliament in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Parliamentarian Ali al-Shila said a legislator was wounded in the attack.
"A mortar round landed near parliament's car park. One colleague, Muayid al-Tayyeb, was wounded," al-Shila told the AFP news agency.
meanwhile, an interior ministry official said two people were also killed and four wounded by a magnetic "sticky bomb" on a vehicle in the Mansur area in western Baghdad.
Surge of violence
Monday's attacks come amid a surge of violence across the country.
Last Saturday, a string of explosions hit a market in Baghdad and an area on the city's western outskirts, killing at least 15 people.
Three days earlier, a triple bombing in the southern port city of Basra killed 19 people, including high-ranking army and police officers, and wounded at least 65.
The latest attacks raise questions about the ability of the Iraqi security forces to protect the country when US troops leave at the end of this year.
Iraqi officials maintain that they are fully prepared for the American withdrawal, which is required under a 2008 security pact between the US and Iraq.
At least 15,000 US troops remain in the country, down from a one-time high of about 170,000.
Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.