Attacks in and around the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, including seven car bombs that targeted multiple neighbourhoods, have killed at least 23 people, security and medical officials say.

Eight people were killed in two separate car bombs on Monday - one of which was detonated by a suicide attacker - in the town of Mahmudiyah, just south of Baghdad.

Five others were killed by vehicles rigged with explosives in the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Baladiyat and Hurriyah.

The number of injured from the Monday morning explosions is at least 41.

A further three explosions - one in Sadr City and two in Abu Disheer - on Monday evening killed 10 people and injured 20.

In western Baghdad, also on Monday, police found the bodies of three men and one woman who were all killed by bullets to the head, officials said.

In another incident, two soldiers were killed in clashes with armed men in Baquba, a city 65km northeast of Baghdad, a military source said.

Possible assault

Elsewhere in Iraq, security forces and allied tribesmen killed 57 fighters in the western Anbar province on Monday, the Defence Ministry said, in advance of a possible assault on the rebel-held city of Fallujah.

There was no independent verification of the toll among the Sunni Arab fighters, said to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group also fighting in the civil war in neighbouring Syria.


ISIL fighters and other Sunni groups angered by the Shia Muslim-led Baghdad government overran Fallujah and parts of the nearby city of Ramadi on January 1.

The Defence Ministry statement said most of the 57 fighters had been killed in the outskirts of Ramadi, but gave few details.

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, has held back from an all-out assault on Fallujah to give time for a negotiated way out of the standoff, but mediation efforts appear to have failed.

Troops intensified shelling of Fallujah late on Sunday and security officials said a ground assault would follow soon.

A resident of Fallujah said many families had moved to the city's western districts because other areas were being shelled, and the army was battling fighters in the north.

Maliki has appealed for international support and weapons to fight al-Qaeda, although critics say his own policies towards Iraq's once-dominant Sunni community are at least partly to blame for reviving an insurgency that had peaked in 2006-07.

Last year was Iraq's bloodiest since 2008, according to the UN, and the violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count has said more than 1,000 people were killed in January alone.

Source: Agencies