Staggered explosions on Wednesday killed 23 people — 13 of them policemen — and wounded an Iraqi provincial governor, said officials, in the worst violence in months to hit the western province that was formerly Al-Qaeda’s top stronghold in Iraq.

The strategically important Anbar province was once the heartland of support for Al-Qaeda-linked militants, before many terrorists turned on the organisation and joined forces with U.S. troops and the Iraqi government. The Governor is the most senior Sunni leader to be attacked since then.

While violence in Iraq has dropped considerably since the height of the conflict in 2006 and 2007, a reinvigorated militancy in Anbar — which is also Iraq’s largest province — could pose a serious risk to the stability as it prepares for elections in March.

String of attacks

The bombings are also the latest in a string of attacks to target government buildings and installations, as a way to undermine Iraqis’ confidence in the ability of the government to protect itself.

Terrorists trying to ignite sectarian violence also killed six people at a Shia mourning event north of Baghdad, said officials.

Police said two bombs exploded in Anbar’s capital of Ramadi, 115 km west of Baghdad. They say a suicide bomber in a car caused the first blast near a checkpoint on the main road near the provincial administration buildings.

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