Suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq have killed at least 33 people and wounded another 80, in a surge of violence as the country counts down to parliamentary elections.
Monday’s deadliest attack took place south of Baghdad in the town of Suwayrah, where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint, killing 12 people; five policemen and seven civilians. Police said 19 people were wounded in that attack.
In the nearby town of Madain, about 20 kilometres southeast of Baghdad, another suicide car bomber struck an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers and two civilians. Another 12 other people were wounded.
An Iraqi soldier was killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb struck their patrol in the northern town of Mishahda, 30 kilometres north of Baghdad.
And in the town of Latifiyah, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, gunmen in a speeding car went on a shooting spree, killing one civilian and wounding two, police said.
On Monday night, four more bombs struck various parts of Baghdad, killing at least 14 people and wounding 40.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.
Monday’s carnage came a day after at least 18 people died and nearly 50 were wounded across the country.
Those attacks included a coordinated assault on a private Shia college in Baghdad in which a suicide bomber with an explosives belt attacked the main gate while three militants attacked the back gate of the college. Four policemen and one teacher were killed and 18 other people were wounded.
Hours after the attack, an al-Qaeda spin-off group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility, accusing the college’s professors of teaching students to “curse” the Prophet Mohammed and training them to “fight” the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria.
The UN Special Representative in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, described the college assault as a “vicious and cowardly attack on innocent civilians”.
“This is yet another example of sectarian-based violence that the people of this country need to fight in order to bring this country to tranquility,” Mladenov said in a statement.
“The target has been selected to incite sectarian hatred, with utter disregard for human life and religious values,” he said.
Over the past year, violence has risen in Iraq to levels unseen since 2008.
The increase in deadly shootings and bombings has become the Shia-led government’s most serious challenge as the nation prepares to head to the polls on April 30 – the first vote in Iraq since the US army withdrawal in 2011.
According to the United Nations, 8,868 people were killed in Iraq last year.