A car bomb has exploded at a bus terminal in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, killing at least nine people, police said, in what appeared to be the latest in a series of sectarian attacks.

The bomb exploded in the predominantly Shia town of Garmat Ali on Sunday.

"I was thrown back by the explosion. Then I stood up and ran back to help the victims," said bus driver Hameed Salman.

"I carried five bodies myself and put them in some civilian cars to take them to the hospital," he added.

Three police sources said nine people were killed. The head of the provincial security committee, Ali Ghanim al-Maliki, put the death toll at 10.

Also on Sunday, another car bomb went off in a car park for government offices in the city of Basra, wounding two people, police said.

Violence has increased with the swell of opposition to the government and Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate has urged people to take up arms.

Security experts say al Qaeda-linked fighters have been regrouping in the western province of Anbar.

Source: Agencies