BAGHDAD (AP) — Two car bombs struck a disputed northern Iraqi city on Wednesday as a series of attacks across the country killed at least nine people, officials said.
Violence has ebbed across Iraq since the peak of the fighting in the last decade, but deadly attacks still occur almost daily and tensions remain high, particularly in ethnically divided Kirkuk.
An explosives-laden car parked in the city center exploded at around 3:00 p.m., killing three civilians and wounding eight. An hour later, another parked car bomb exploded in the same area and killed two children and their parents as they were traveling in a car nearby, Kirkuk deputy police chief, Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul-Rahman Youssef said.
The provincial health directorate chief, Sidiq Omar Rasool, confirmed the casualty figures.
Civilians joined forces with rescuers and policemen in searching for survivors in a partially damaged house after the first explosion. A wailing man was repeatedly trying to make his way through to the house, but he was prevented by the crowds.
After the second attack, firefighters struggled to extinguish the blaze that engulfed the car with at least three charred bodies of a woman and two children visible.
Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area. The Kurds want to incorporate it into their self-rule region in Iraq's north, but Arabs and Turkomen are opposed.
In the town of Tarmiyah, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a police patrol, killing two policemen and wounding eight other people, a police official said.
A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attacks, but car and suicide bombings are a hallmark of al-Qaida's Iraq branch.
Insurgents routinely target Iraqi police, government officials and civilians in an attempt to undermine Iraq's government or to exacerbate political tension.
Authorities also raised the death toll from Tuesday's attack on a row of liquor stores in eastern Baghdad to 12 after one man died of his wounds in the hospital. Families gathered outside a Baghdad morgue to receive the bodies of their relatives. Several wooden caskets were loaded on vehicles as mourners chanted: "There is no God, but Allah."