Fresh attacks in Iraq, including car bombs in Baghdad, have killed more than 20, including 12 police officers, amid a surge of violence that has left 160 dead in a week and increased fears of all-out sectarian conflict.
On Thursday morning, a car bomb in the neighbourhood of Binouq in northeast Baghdad killed four people and wounded a dozen more, while another vehicle packed with explosives went off in the centre of the capital, leaving two dead and 10 wounded, officials said.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said that at least 12 policemen were killed in the northern city of Mosul after unknown gunmen opened fire on local officers.
"There has not been a claim of responsibility for the attack. But in the past an al-Qaeda front group has claimed responsility for attacks on Shia areas and security forces, which they see as illegitimate," she said.
Two border policemen were also ambushed along the main Iraq-Jordan highway and shot dead.
Another explosion in the capital killed one police officer at a checkpoint in the Karrada district.
Outside of Baquba, two football players were killed and at least nine injured in a roadside bomb outside a sports stadium.
The latest violence came a day after multiple bomb blasts struck two neighbourhoods in the Iraqi capital, killing at least 28 people, including several members of a wedding party.
Our correspondent said there is speculation that the increase in attacks is a result of score settling between al-Qaeda and security forces or because of the political crisis which needs to be resolved.
Hoshyar Zebair, the Iraqi foreign minister, said that the pattern of these attacks is a clear indication that the government needs to revise its security plans.
Bridal party hit
Wednesday's deadliest attack targeted a bridal party in the southern Jihad district, killing 16 people and wounding 42 others, police said.
Many of those killed were cheering a bride passing by when the blast went off, according to authorities.
Jihad district was one of the earliest flashpoints in Baghdad's descent into sectarian unrest in the years after the 2003 US-led invasion.
Many of Jihad's Sunni residents earlier this year received threatening leaflets from a Shia armed group warning them to leave.
Another 12 people were killed and 31 were wounded when a roadside bomb and then a car bomb exploded near a market in the western Baghdad district of Abu Ghraib, police said.
The increasing wave of violence in the country is raising fears that Iraq is slipping back towards an all-out sectarian fighting like that which nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007.
"We have major concerns. Because what is going on now is the same that led to what happened in 2006,'' Adnan Faihan, the head of the political bureau of the Shia armed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, said.
Iraq security and oil ministry officials also said they foiled an al-Qaeda plot to pack tanker trucks with explosives to attack a key Baghdad oil facility.