Iraq hit by wave of attacks less than a week before elections

Car bombs and shootings kill 27 people and wound over 100 in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kirkuk and towns south of the capital

A member of the Iraqi security forces inspects the site of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk
A member of the Iraqi security forces inspects the site of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, one of a series of attacks across the country. Photograph: Stringer/Iraq/Reuters
A series of attacks across Iraq have killed 27 people and wounded more than 100, officials said.
The attacks, many involving car bombs, took place less than a week before Iraqis in much of the country are scheduled to vote in the country's first elections since the 2011 US troop withdrawal. The vote will be a key test of security forces' ability to keep voters safe.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but co-ordinated attacks are a favourite tactic of al-Qaida's Iraq branch.
Iraqi officials believe the insurgent group is growing stronger and increasingly co-ordinating with allies fighting to topple the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border co-operation with the Syrian militant group Nusra Front has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.
Nearly all of the deadly attacks reported by police officials on Monday morning were bombings, which struck Baghdad, the western city of Fallujah, the contested northern city of Kirkuk and towns south of the capital. Another 100 people were wounded.
Windows rattled from the force of a blast in central Baghdad when a bomb struck the central commercial district of Karrada. That blast and others in the capital, including one caused by a parked car bomb that went off at a bus station, killed 10.
In Kirkuk, an oil-rich city about 290km (180 miles) from Baghdad, police said nine people were killed when six car bombs exploded simultaneously. Three bombs detonated in the town centre – in Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman districts. The rest went off elsewhere in the city, which is home to a mix of ethnic groups with competing claims.
In addition to the bombings, a police officer was killed in a drive-by shooting while he was driving his car in Tarmiyah, 30 miles (50km) north of Baghdad.
Although violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007, bombings and other attacks remain common.
The blasts came a day after a series of attacks left 10 people dead, including a Sunni candidate running in the upcoming provincial elections. The most serious attack on Sunday took place when a booby-trapped body that was left in the street exploded among a group of policemen who were trying to inspect the body.
Iraqis vote on Saturday in what will be the country's first election since US troops withdrew in December 2011. The election, for local-level officials, will be a test of the strength of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's political bloc as well as the ability of security forces to keep the country safe.


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