A series of car bombings and a roadside explosion have killed at least 26 people and injured more than 100 others across Iraq.
In Baghdad, a car bomb targeting an army general’s convoy blew up near the Palestine hotel in an area frequented by foreigners, killing a guard in the convoy. General Qassim Nouri, in charge of security at the Baghdad municipality, was unhurt, according to police sources.
The explosion was in Firdos Square, famed for scenes of the toppling of the huge statue of Saddam Hussein shortly after the 2003 US-led invasion.
The deadliest blasts occurred in Kirkuk, a disputed ethnically mixed oil-rich governorate in northern Iraq that is frequently targeted by militants seeking to sow communal violence, where at least nine people were killed and 39 wounded.
South of Baghdad, in the village of Methatiya, near Hilla, a car bomb exploded in a marketplace, killing at least ten and injuring nine.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said the bombings were “a snapshot of the violence” still plaguing Iraq.
“In Kirkuk, a city disputed between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, there were at least three car bombs: one against the offices of a major Kurdish pary, one targeted a Turkmen party office, and another that hit a major road. That was in addition to car bombs in the city of Hilla, a Shia town. And one here in Baghdad that targeted an army general,” she said.
“All in all, these same to be the major targets that have been frequent targets of violence: security forces, Shia and, increasingly, political parties in Kirkuk.”
Another car bomb has detonated in the town of al-Hufriyah, in Wasit province, roughly 70km south of Baghdad.
Hospital sources there say two people were killed and eight injured in the explosion near a restaurant. Al-Hufriyah is a mainly Shia town, surrounded by a Sunni area which had reportedly been a stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A car bomb also exploded in Baji, north of Baghdad, known for a major refinery, and yet another in Balad Rhuz, in Diyala province. A dozen people were wounded, but no fatalities have yet been reported.
Two bombs have also rocked Mosul, one at a police station and a second near an army patrol. At least five soldiers and two civilians were injured in the blast. Explosives experts also carried out controlled detonations of two further bombs found inside Mosul University.
The early morning violence comes a day before Muharram, which marks the Islamic new year on the lunar calendar.