by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, July 4 (Xinhua) -- A series of bomb and gunfire attacks on Monday killed at least 11 people and injured 35 others in northern and central Iraq, marking an escalation in violence in the country several months before the proposed departure of U.S. troops.
In the northern province of Nineveh, an Iraqi soldier was killed and another injured when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol vehicle in the Rabia area in west of the provincial capital city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Also in the province, gunmen in the afternoon wounded Colonel Sarmad Mahmoud from the provincial traffic police in front of his house in western Mosul, the source said.
In the eastern province of Diyala, gunmen using silenced weapons shot dead Kurdish politician Shakir Sultan, a branch head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, in the town of Sa'diyah, some 130 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The incident occurred in front of Sultan's house and the attackers fled the scene by a car waiting for them, the source said.
Earlier in the day, the police reported that three booby- trapped vehicles, a suicide bomber and a roadside bomb hit the once volatile Sunni Arab area which stretches through Iraq's western province of Anbar, killing a total of five people and wounding 21 others.
The deadliest attack in the area occurred in the early hours of the day when a roadside bomb struck a joint patrol of Iraqi army and Awakening Council group members in the Abu Ghraib area, some 20 km west of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and wounding four soldiers along with four of the paramilitary group members, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The Awakening Council group, or al-Sahwa in Arabic, 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 exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
In the western province of Anbar, a car bomb exploded in the morning near a police patrol in the Saqlawiyah town near the city of Falluajh, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing two passers-by and wounding three policemen, a source from Anbar's operations command told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In a separate incident, another car bomb parked near the postal office of the city of Hit, some 160 km west of Baghdad, detonated. The explosion killed a civilian, wounded eight people, and caused damages to the building of the postal office and several nearby buildings and civilian cars, the source said.
In the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, the police found a third car bomb parked near the traffic police headquarters and police experts carried out controlled explosion without causing casualties, the source added.
Also in the province, Iraqi security forces foiled a suicide bomb attack outside a police station in the city of Haditha, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, when the guards opened fire on a would-be suicide bomber and blew up his explosive vest before he reached his target, the source said.
The suspect refused to stop when he was ordered by the guards, but continued to approach the checkpoint at the entrance of the station, prompting the guards to open fire on him, the source said.
Two policemen were wounded by the blast, the source added.
The Iraqi army also foiled suicide bomb attack in downtown Baghdad. The soldiers spotted a suspected suicide bomber at the crowded parking lot of Bab al-Mu'adham and chased him in the busy area. The suspect blew up his explosive vest and wounded five soldiers, the source said.
Also in the Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck a police patrol in the Mansour district and badly damaged a police vehicle, killing three policemen aboard and wounding another.
Three passers-by were wounded by the blast, which also damaged several nearby civilian cars, the source said.
In a separate incident, a roadside bomb ripped through the Abu Dsheer neighborhood in southern the capital, killing a civilian and wounding three others, the source added.
Monday's attacks underscore the challenges the Iraqi security forces are facing as they struggle to restore stability and normalcy in Iraqi cities about seven months before the departure of all American forces according to the security pact named Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was signed late 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.