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iraq-bomb-blastBAGHDAD: A wave of bombings and shootings killed 12 people on Monday as Iraq grappled with anti-government protests and simmering political crises ahead of major Shia Muslim commemoration rituals.

 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in eight towns and cities that also wounded more than 40, but militants such as Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq regularly target officials in a bid to destabilise the government.

 

They also regularly attack pilgrims.

 

The violence comes after anti-government protesters blocked a key highway to Syria and Jordan, amid political tensions between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a secular Sunni-backed party in his fragile national unity government.

 

In the deadliest attack, seven people -- three women, two children and two men -- were killed when three houses were blown up in the town of Mussayib south of Baghdad, a local police officer and a medic said.

 

Four others were wounded.

 

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012
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