At least 18 people, including two soldiers, have been killed in separate attacks in Iraq’s volatile western province of Anbar, medical and security officials say, in a surge in violence before parliamentary elections.
At least 16 civilians were killed when mortar shells landed upon houses in Fallujah, a key city of Sunni-dominated Anbar, Ahmed al-Shami, spokesman for the Fallujah Hospital, said on Wednesday.
Fifteen others were wounded in the shelling that hit several districts of Fallujah, the scene of months of fighting between government troops and armed rebels, al-Shami told independent website al-Sumaria News.
It was not clear who fired the shells.
Meanwhile, twin suicide bombings in Ramadi city left at least two soldiers dead and five injured, police said, according to the DPA news agency. There were reports as many as eight had been killed.
The apparently synchronised attacks targeted a military command building in the area.
In Baghdad on Wednesday, two car bombs blew up in Sadr and Ubaidy, two predominately Shia Muslim areas, killing 15 and wounding 25 others, police sources told Al Jazeera.
This neutrality comes as response from the people to the retaliatory operations mounted by the army every time it is hit by the insurgents
Forces loyal to the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have been battling fighters from the Sunni armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar since January.
ISIL is reportedly in control of Fallujah and making advances into nearby areas.
Fighters believed to be linked to ISIL have seized a village in western Baghdad, a politician said on Wednesday, a day after authorities citing security concerns closed a major prison in the area.
“The insurgents have controlled the village of Abadi and are getting closer to the Abu Ghraib prison,” Sunni legislator Talal al-Zoabi told independent newspaper Al-Mada.
He added that residents of the mostly Sunni area were adopting a “neutral stance” in the conflict between the government troops and the “insurgents”.
“This neutrality comes as response from the people to the retaliatory operations mounted by the army every time it is hit by the insurgents.”
The surge in Iraq’s violence comes in the run-up to parliamentary elections due to be held on April 30, in which al-Maliki is seeking a third consecutive term.
In recent months, the country has seen almost daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Shia civilians.
According to UN estimates, 8,868 people were killed in violence in 2013, Iraq’s highest annual death toll in five years.