Attacks in Iraq, including cafe bombing, kill 12
Baghdad • A series of attacks in Iraq, including a bomb blast at a cafe in a Baghdad suburb, killed 12 people on Thursday, Iraqi officials said.
In the cafe attack, a bomb exploded in the evening hours inside a small cafe in the capital's northeastern suburb of Husseiniyah, killing four people and wounding eight, police officials said.
Two hours later, a bomb went off in a commercial street in Baghdad's southern district of Dora, killing two people and wounded five.
Earlier, a roadside bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the town of Youssifiyah, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding nine.
Police also said that a bomb went off near a security checkpoint in northeastern Baghdad on Thursday, killing two soldiers and wounded five people, including three civilians.
And in the afternoon, a gunman riding a motorbike opened fire on a group of people walking in the street in the town of Madian, just south of Baghdad, killing one person and wounding four.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
Violence has surged in Iraq recently. According to the United Nations, 8,868 people were killed in Iraq last year — the country's highest death toll since the peak of sectarian bloodletting in 2007 and 2008.
Last month, Iraqis defied fears of attacks and cast ballots in parliamentary elections — the country's first vote since U.S. troops pulled out at the end of 2011. Ballots are still being counted from the election, but Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's bloc was a front-runner.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces, which had acted as a buffer between Shiites and Sunnis, is thought to have contributed to the rise in violence in addition to the use of excessive deadly force by the Shiite-led security forces against Sunni protesters.