A number of Iraqi cities, including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Samara, have been rocked by a series of deadly explosions, including 14 separate car bombings which have left 33 people dead and many more injured.
In the capital, police said roadside bombs and car explosions targeted security patrols and the nation's top health official, Hamad Amin, the health minister, as his convoy was driving him to work.
At least three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) went off in the neighbourhoods of al-Amel, southwestern Baghdad, and Taji, north of Baghdad, killing nine people and injuring 11, a police source said.
In Al Ghazaliya district, western Baghdad, an IED exploded as two gunmen were setting it up. Both gunmen were killed, the police source said.
Police say two car bombs went off in Kirkuk, 290km north of Baghdad, which killed nine people and injured 24 others.
In Samara city, north of Baghdad, two car bombs resulted in three people killed and six others injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but a Baghdad military command spokesman Colonel Dhia al-Wakeel said the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.
"They want to send a message that they can target the stability that has been achieved recently, this will not discourage our security forces," said al-Wakeel
Thursday was the deadliest day in Iraq since March 20, when shootings and bombings claimed by an al-Qaeda affiliated group killed 50 people and wounded 255 nationwide.
Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks still continue across the country.
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|F. William Engdahl|