Blasts in Iraq kill at least 36


Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion outside Kirkuk University on April 15, 2012.


Marwan Ibrahim

Security officials said Iraq sustained coordinated bombing and shooting attacks today in a wave of violence that left at least 36 people dead, according to AFP

Over 170 people were reported wounded, according to AFP. 

The attacks took place in Baghdad as well as four cities in the country's north -- Kirkuk, Samarra, Dibis and Taji, said the Associated Press, noting that much of the violence struck Shiite neighborhoods.

Those killed by the attacks included 23 civilians, 10 policemen, three members of an anti-Al Qaeda militia and two soldiers, said AFP.

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In the Iraqi capital, officials said Health Minister Majeed Hamad Amin was targeted by an attack on his way to work but was not hurt, although the explosion killed several standing near his vehicle, according to Reuters. Several other security areas in Baghdad saw attacks, said AP

Overall violence is significantly down in Iraq, but officials said today's violence appeared to be a coordinated strike on the nation's fledgling security apparatus, according to AP.

Some of the bombings targeted Shiite Muslims, the frequent victims of attacks by Iraq's Sunni insurgency and Al Qaeda in Iraq, said The New York Times. A hotel near a Shiite shrine in Baghdad was targeted and as was a checkpoint guarded by members of the Awakening movement comprised of former insurgents who switched sides.

Foreign troops withdrew from Iraq in December, ending years of war and sectarian violence unleashed by the US ousting of Saddam Hussein. 

According to statistics cited by the United Nations, the levels of violence have remained steady since the withdrawal of foreign troops, staying around the same levels as the past three years, said The Times.