Fresh Iraq violence claims more lives

Three blasts kill at least 26 people in central and western regions.

    Three blasts including a suicide bomb in a cafe killed 26 people in central and western Iraq , officials said.

    The attacks on Monday evening were the latest in a months-long surge of violence.

    In the deadliest of the blasts, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a cafe in Balad, 80km north of Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding another 30, police said.

    Attacks against Shia civilians are aimed to undermine the government.

    About two hours later, at least six people were killed and 17 others wounded in a bomb explosion near a restaurant in the city of Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad.

    Late at night, a suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into an army checkpoint near the city of Fallujah, killing five soldiers, said police officials.

    Fallujah, a former al-Qaida stronghold, is 65km west of Baghdad.

    Medical officials in a nearby hospital confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to journalists.

    Meanwhile, the United States condemned a string of car bombings on Saturday that targeted markets, cafes and parks crowded with people celebrating Eid al-Fitr holidays.

    The State Department said Saturday's attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's Iraqi (AQI) branch.

    It reiterated that it was offering a $10m reward for information leading to the killing or capture of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the AQI leader.

    Last month al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for simultaneous raids on two Iraqi prisons and said more than 500 inmates had escaped in the brazen operation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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