BAGHDAD, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- At least 27 people were killed and 40 others wounded in violent attacks across Iraq on Thursday, police said.
Three mortar shells fell on a popular market in the town of Musayyib, 40 km south of Baghdad, killing 17 people and injuring 30 others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The shells also damaged a number of shops in the crowded market, he added.
Earlier in the day, ten people were killed and 10 others wounded in two violent incidents in eastern and central Iraq, police sources said.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a fierce clash erupted when armed men attacked an army base in south of the city Sa'diyah, some 120 km northeast of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, leaving two soldiers killed and six others wounded, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The two-hour fighting also resulted in the killing of five gunmen, the source said.
Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the border in east of the country, has long been a volatile area since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite repeated military operations against the militant groups.
In a separate incident, a roadside bomb struck a patrol of a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group in Nibai area, some 70 km north of Baghdad, killing three group members and wounding four others, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.
The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of armed groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter adopted hardline Islam and exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.