A suicide bombers in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar has killed a senior Iraqi army intelligence officer, along with three of his bodyguards, police officials say.
The bomber detonated his explosives at the officer’s home in the town, located about 60km west of Mosul, police said on Saturday.
In a separate attack, a senior judge was also killed by a sticky bomb just north of the capital Baghdad, according to Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf.
Police officials said that the first attack occurred when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt near Brigadier General Ali Aouni’s car as he was leaving his house in Tal Afar. Aouni was the head of the intelligence academy in the Iraqi defence ministry.
“Guards killed one suicide bomber, but when the brigadier general and his bodyguards went out another bomber ran among them and blew himself up,” a local official said.
Arraf said it was not immediately clear whether Aouni was the intended target of the suicide bombers.
“This is significant because it is Tal Afar, which is in between Mosul, quiet a volatile city, and the Syrian border,” Arraf said.
Iraq has seen an increase in attacks in recent weeks, with January the deadliest month since September, according to a tally kept by the AFP news agency. Levels of violence, however, remain markedly lower than during the peak of hostilities in 2006 and 2007.
Political tensions are high in Iraq as thousands of Sunni Muslims in the west of the country hold daily rallies against
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, accusing him of marginalising their minority sect.
More than ten suicide attackers have struck security forces, Shia targets and a lawmaker since January. After the last
US troops left in December 2011, anti-state fighters have been carrying out at least one major, complex attack a month.
In 2012, more than 4,400 people were killed, the first annual climb in Iraq’s death toll in three years.
Sunni unrest and renewed violence are worsening fears the war in neighbouring Syria, where Sunni rebels are battling President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Shia Iran – could undermine Iraq’s delicate sectarian and ethnic balance.