Iraq insurgents unleash wave of terror; At least 59 killed in bombings and shootings

Security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Aug 16, 2012.
AP Photo/Emad Matti

(AP) BAGHDAD - Insurgents in Iraq unleashed a relentless wave of attacks from before dawn until late at night Thursday, killing 59 people and wounding many more in a deadly show of force aimed at undermining the government's authority.

The bomb and shooting attacks made for the country's deadliest day in more than three weeks, rattling nerves as families prepared to gather for a holiday weekend. More than 150 people have been killed in violence across the country since the start of August, showing that insurgents led by al Qaeda's Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last U.S. troops left the country.

Five of the attacks accounted for more than half of the casualties.

Iraq attacks kill 13 north of Baghdad
Iraq gunmen kill 7 Shiites in targeted attack
12 killed in series of militant attacks in Iraq

A morning car bomb in Baghdad's northeastern and mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah killed seven people and wounded 31.

Around midday, another car bomb struck near the headquarters of local security forces in the northern city of Daqouq. As police rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, killing seven policemen. Another 35 people were hurt, police said.

Shortly before sunset, gunmen in cars opened fire on an Iraqi army checkpoint near the town of Mishada, killing seven soldiers and wounding eight. Mishada is 20 miles north of Baghdad.

Then, around 10 p.m., a suicide bomber walked into a teashop and blew himself up in Tal Afar, some 260 miles northwest of the capital. Mayor Abdul-Aal Abbas and local police said that explosion killed seven and wounded 10.

And in Kut, a Shiite city southeast of Baghdad, a parked car exploded near a market and several restaurants late in the evening, killing 7 and wounding 25 people, police and hospital officials said.

Iraqi officials are tightening security ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend. Authorities are seeking to thwart a possible upsurge in violence as crowds gather in public places such as parks, shrines and mosques to mark the occasion.

"Our security forces have received intelligence that terrorist groups are planning and preparing for attacks during and after Eid," said Abdul-Karim Tharib, head of the Baghdad provincial council security committee. "We ... have taken all necessary measures to foil any terrorist activities during Eid."

An interior ministry official said security measures for the holiday will include an increased number of checkpoints and road closures near government offices, parks and shrines. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the security preparations.

Thursday's carnage began when militants planted four bombs around the house of a military officer near the northern city of Kirkuk, according to the city's police commander, Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir. The officer escaped unharmed, but his brother was killed and six other family members were wounded.

Hours later, a bomb in a parked car exploded near a string of restaurants, killing one and wounding 15, Qadir said. The blast seriously damaged the eateries' storefronts, scattering shattered glass and debris across the sidewalk.

Another parked car bomb blast targeting a police patrol followed, wounding two policemen and two bystanders. A couple hours later, two car bombs exploded simultaneously in a Kirkuk parking lot near a complex of government offices in the city's north, injuring four people.