Attacks in Iraq killed 31 people Thursday as 11 car bombs struck nationwide, the latest in a surge of violence that has sparked fears Iraq is slipping back into all-out sectarian war.
The bloodshed, in which more than 6,000 people have been killed this year, is the worst prolonged stretch of unrest since 2008 and comes just months before a general election, forcing Baghdad to appeal for international help in battling rebel fighters.
Attacks struck across the country, from the northern hub of Mosul to Kut in the south. They cut down civilians as well as security forces in a wide variety of incidents targeting markets, bus stations, a funeral tent and the convoy of a top police official, security and medical sources said.
Babil province, south of Baghdad, suffered the lion's share of the car bombs, as a half-dozen struck provincial capital Hilla and nearby towns, killing six people and wounding dozens more.
Another vehicle rigged with explosives targeted Salaheddin provincial police chief Major General Juma al-Dulaimi.
It killed three civilians and wounded two others. Dulaimi himself escaped unharmed from the blast in the provincial capital of Tikrit, hometown of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Calls for help
A suicide car bombing at a police checkpoint near Samarra, also in Salaheddin, killed three police and wounded three more.
Two more car bombs in predominantly-Sunni Salaheddin and two others in Wasit, a mostly Shiite province south of Baghdad, killed three people and wounded 15.
Also in Salaheddin, rebel fighters who set up a fake checkpoint gunned down six people -- a senior official in Iraq's identity card department and his wife, two policemen and two other civilians.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki used a recent trip to Washington to push for greater intelligence sharing and the timely delivery of new weapons systems in a bid to combat rebel groups.
France and Turkey have offered assistance.