BAGHDAD, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- A total of 21 people were killed and 47 wounded in a shooting and three car bomb attacks, including two suicide ones, in central and northern Iraq on Tuesday, the police said.
In one attack, a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives blew them up at an Iraqi army checkpoint in Taji area, some 20 km north of the capital of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding 21 others, including five soldiers, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Another attack occurred in the town of Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive- laden car at an army checkpoint, killing four civilians and one soldier and wounding 14 people, including three soldiers, an Interior Ministry source anonymously told Xinhua.
In Baghdad, a booby-trapped car parked at a popular marketplace in al-Shula district in northern part of Baghdad detonated and killed five people and wounded 12 more, the source said.
The blast destroyed several nearby shops and many stalls at the market of the poor neighborhood, the source added.
Meanwhile, four employees of the Iraqi Oil Ministry and a policeman guarding them were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle while travelling on a main road north of the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua.
The employees and the policeman were carrying the salaries of dozens of workers of al-Qaiyarra refinery, some 350 km north of Baghdad, the source said.
The attackers seized the vehicle and the money and fled the scene, but an Iraqi army force chased the gunmen and managed to recover the vehicle and the stolen money, the source added.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, but observers see such attacks were attempt by the insurgent groups, including al-Qaida militant group, to show that they are capable of carrying out coordinated and high-profile attacks that could undermine the government's claims of providing security to Iraqis.
On Monday, al-Qaida militant group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bomb and gunfire attacks across Iraq in the past week that killed and wounded hundreds of Iraqis.
Tuesday's violence also came as sectarian tension is already running high in the country amid continuing anti-government protests by Sunni Arabs, which were sparked in late December when security forces arrested bodyguards of Sunni Finance Minister Rafia al-Essawi.
The protests started in the heartland of the Sunni Arabs in Anbar province and quickly spread in the cities of the Sunni provinces of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahudin and Diyala, as well as in Baghdad's Sunni districts.
Furious Sunnis accuse the Shiite-dominated government of marginalizing them, and claimed that the Shiite-led security forces were indiscriminately arresting their sons and torturing them. They also accused the security forces of arresting women instead of their wanted male family members.