BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- A wave of violent attacks across Iraq on Monday killed 42 people and wounded 86 others, raising fears that terrorist groups and militia could bring the country to uncontrollable sectarian violence.
In one of the attacks, gunmen blew up a car bomb at the entrance of the city council in the city of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, paving the way for three suicide bombers to enter the building and held a number of the council's employees hostages, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Later on, a counter-terrorism force stormed the building and freed the hostages after they killed a suicide bomber, while the other two blew up their explosive vests inside, according to a spokesman statement.
"A special force stormed the building of the Tikrit city council and freed all the hostages," a counter-terrorism spokesman said. A provincial police source told Xinhua that Hameed al-Ajili, a council member, and two policemen were killed, while five of the council's employees were wounded.
Earlier in the day, gunmen stormed the police headquarters in the city of Baiji, some 30 km north of Tikrit, after they set off a car bomb at the entrance of the building and broke into the compound, the source said.
The attackers failed to take control of the building and the battle resulted in the killing of six gunmen and three policemen, and the wounding of five other policemen, the source said.
Salahudin province is a Sunni-dominated province and Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein. In northern Iraq, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims in the southwestern part of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, killing nine people, a local police source said.
Those pilgrims were on their way from their city of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km southwest of Baghdad, to commemorate the Arba'een ritual, which marks the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson and the third holy figure in Shiite Islam.
In Baghdad, a spate of bomb attacks, including five car bombs, ripped through the city, killing a total of 14 people and wounding some 65 others, a police source anonymously told Xinhua.
The deadliest attack occurred near Baghdad Provincial Council in downtown area when a car bomb detonated and killed six people and wounded 11 others, the source said.
Another car bomb went off at a busy parking lot of al-Nahdha in downtown Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 20 others, the source said. A car bomb went off in an adjacent neighborhood of Sadriyah, killing at least a civilian and wounding five others, the source added.
Meanwhile, a fourth car bomb detonated in Baiyaa district in the southern part of the capital, killing a civilian and wounding 15, he said, adding that the fifth car bomb exploded at a marketplace in Jesr Diyala district in southeastern the capital, killing a civilian and wounding nine.
Separately, a civilian was wounded when gunmen opened fire on him in New Baghdad district in the southeastern the capital, while four people wounded in a separate roadside bomb blast in Jurf al- Sakar area in the south, he added.
Near Baghdad, a sticky bomb attached to a car detonated in the town of Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad, killing the driver, the source said.
In Iraq's western province of Anbar, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up at a security checkpoint on the highway east of the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing a police officer and wounding three policemen and three soldiers, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
In a separate incident, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in al-Shuhadaa district in the central part of Fallujah, killing a policeman and wounding two others, the source said, adding that two more policemen were wounded in a separate gunmen attack on their checkpoint in the city.
The police found two bodies of civilians with bullet holes in their heads and chests near the city of Aana, some 260 km west of Baghdad, the source added.
In addition, a soldier was wounded in a roadside bomb explosion near his patrol in Alous area, near the city of Haditha, some 200 km west of Baghdad, he said.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks, but the al-Qaida front in Iraq, in most cases, were allegedly responsible for such massive attacks in the country, raising fears that the terrorist group and other militia could return to widespread violence.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 8,109 Iraqis were killed in the country from January to November this year.