Bombings across Iraq killed 15 people and wounded at least another 24 on Monday, officials said — the latest apparent attacks by militants aimed at undermining security and confidence in the government.
The deadliest blasts were in the town of Musayyib some 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, where militants planted bombs around two houses, one belonging to a police officer. Two women and two children aged 11 and 14 along with three men were killed, while three others were wounded in the pre-dawn blasts, a police officer said.
In the city of Hillah, a parked car bomb exploded in a busy street where local government offices are located, killing three people and wounding 21, another police officer said. He said some Shiite pilgrims were there making their way to the nearby city of Karbala to mark the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein.
He didn't say how many pilgrims were among the casualties. Hillah is about 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.
Two doctors confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Also Monday, four policemen were killed in the northern city of Kirkuk while trying to defuse a bomb the center of the city, according to police Col. Taha Salaheddin. Kirkuk is 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad.
And another a policeman was killed when a bomb hit a police convoy in the town of Tuz Khormato, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad, said the provincial spokesman of Salahuddin province, Mohammed al-Asi.
Although violence has ebbed since the height of the insurgency in the past, some groups presumed to be primarily Sunni extremists are still able to launch lethal attacks nationwide against government officials or civilians.
Shiite pilgrims are one of their favorite targets. Each year, hundreds of thousands converge on the southern city of Karbala where the Imam Hussein is buried. Many travel on foot and the mass gatherings are frequently attacked despite tight security.