Baghdad: At least 42 people were killed and 84 wounded in attacks across Iraq Wednesday, mainly in Christian areas here, police said.
The deadliest attack occurred around noon when a car bomb went off near Mar Youhanna church when Christian worshippers were leaving after celebrating Christmas day in Doura district in the southern part of Baghdad, killing up to 27 people and wounding 56 others, a police source told Xinhua.
Three roadside bombs went off in a quick succession at a busy marketplace in the same predominantly Christian district, killing 11 people and wounding 14 others, the source said.
Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians since the US-led invasion in 2003, forcing tens of thousands to flee the country.
In the northern central province of Salahudin, gunmen attacked a joint police and army checkpoint on a highway near the provincial capital city of Tikrit, killing two policemen and a soldier and wounding another soldier, a police source said.
In a separate incident, Colonel Khalil al-Ramul, police chief of the city of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad, escaped unharmed a car bomb explosion near his convoy while entering the city’s police headquarters, the source added.
Three passersby were wounded by the blast which also damaged several nearby buildings, the source said.
A roadside bomb exploded in the town of Sulaiman Bek, some 80 km east of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, near a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims, killing one of them and wounding five others, he said.
The pilgrims were returning home from the holy Shiite city of Karbala, after they observed the major ritual of Arbaeen.
Three people were wounded in a bomb explosion in al-Askari district in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 90 km east of Tikrit, the source added.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb went off near a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims close to a checkpoint in southern the city of Kirkuk, wounding two pilgrims, a local police source said.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, but the Al Qaeda front in Iraq, in most cases, is believed to be behind such massive attacks.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 8,109 Iraqis, including 952 members of Iraqi security forces, were killed in the country from January to November this year.