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Wave of weekend attacks kills 56 in Iraq

BAGHDAD--A series of more than 20 attacks across Iraq killed 56 people and wounded over 250 others on Saturday and Sunday, security and medical officials said, with targets including security forces and markets.

The latest violence brings the number of people killed in attacks so far this month to 86, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical sources.

In the deadliest attack on Sunday, two car bombs exploded in a market near the shrine of Imam Ali al-Sharqi in southern Iraq, a security official said.

Dr. Ali al-Alaa, a Maysan province health department official, said the blasts killed 14 people and wounded 60.

Before midnight on Saturday, gunmen opened fire on an army checkpoint near Balad north of Baghdad and a roadside bomb exploded when additional soldiers arrived at the scene.

Eleven soldiers, including two officers, were killed and eight others wounded, an army colonel and a medical source at Balad hospital said.

A police captain was also shot dead on Saturday night in the town of Garma, security and medical officials said.

Early Sunday morning, a car bomb exploded in a car park at the rear gate of state-owned North Oil Company, 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the northern city of Kirkuk, killing seven people and wounding 17 others, police and Dr. Othman Abdul Rahman said.

The victims were seeking to join a force that guards oil facilities, a police officer said.

In Kirkuk itself, two bombings killed three people and wounded 70 others, police and Dr. Mohammed Abdullah said.

The blasts left body parts strewn in the streets, destroyed cars, and damaged government buildings, an AFP correspondent said.

The streets were deserted after the attacks.

A car bomb seriously wounded six soldiers west of Kirkuk, according to army Captain Taha Khalaf, while another in Hawija, also west of the city, wounded two people, security and medical sources said.

Volatile, oil-rich Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that the autonomous Kurdistan region wants to incorporate over opposition from Baghdad.

Three soldiers were killed in clashes with insurgents in Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad, an interior ministry official and a medical source from Abu Ghraib hospital said.

Three car bombs exploded in Taji, north of the capital, killing one person and wounding at least seven others, an interior ministry official said and a medical source said.

And five roadside bombs exploded in and around Baquba, killing a soldier and wounding 17 others, a police colonel and a doctor said.

In the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, a sniper shot dead a soldier, army Captain Saadun al-Mohammedi and Dr. Hamed Iyad from Fallujah hospital said.

In Nasiriyah, 305 kilometres (190 miles) south of Baghdad, a bomb exploded at around 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) Sunday near a French honorary consulate, causing material damage and wounding an unspecified number of people, a French diplomat said.

The city's website put the toll from the bombing at one dead and one wounded.

The foreign ministry in France said in a statement that it “condemns with the greatest firmness the attacks in several Iraqi cities since yesterday which have killed more than 50 people and led to hundreds being wounded.”

Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded in front of a hotel in Nasiriyah, killing two people and wounding two others, according to the head of Nasiriyah hospital, Ahmed Abdul Saheb, and a security source.

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