Car bombs kill at least 18 in Iraq
Police investigate series of attacks
A series of attacks in Iraq killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens Wednesday, police said.
A car bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Hafriya about 35 km southeast of Baghdad on Wednesday afternoon, according to police and health officials. At last three people were killed and 15 others were wounded, officials said. Hafriya is a predominately Shiite district located in Wasit province.
A car bomb targeting a security convoy exploded near two hotels in central Baghdad, killing a person near the scene of the blast and wounding seven others.
In Kirkuk, at least nine people were killed -- including five Iraqi soldiers -- and 31 people were wounded when three car bombs exploded in and around the ethnically mixed, oil-rich city north of Baghdad.
In the southern Iraqi city Hilla, a car bomb exploded near an outdoor market, killing five people and wounding 12 others. Hilla, which is predominately Shiite, is in Babel Province.
In Diyala Province, two roadside bombs and a car bomb, all in different areas, wounded 11 people. One targeted the convoy of Diyala Gov. Omer Aziz al-Hamri, but he wasn't hurt in the incident.
Last month, nearly 150 people were killed and 300 others were wounded in violence across the country, according to the interior ministry.
Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government has blamed the recent attacks on Sunni insurgents with ties to al Qaeda.
Violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq since the peak of Sunni-Shiite clashes in 2006 and 2007 and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country in December 2011, but insurgent attacks against civilians and security forces persist. Many areas are still smoldering with sectarian tension and political infighting.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Tuesday night to reaffirm U.S. support of the Iraqi government, al-Maliki's office said. The two men also discussed the Syrian crisis.
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