Attacks mainly targeting security in Baghdad, including two suicide car bombs minutes apart against police stations, killed 23 people on Wednesday, the Iraqi capital's deadliest day in more than a month.
The violence, in which more than 70 people were wounded, showed insurgents' ability to plan and carry out coordinated attacks on well-secured targets, as Iraq weighs its options over a post-2011 American military training mission.
Two suicide attackers detonated their explosives-packed vehicles at police stations in Hurriyah in north Baghdad, and Alwiyah in the centre, at about 8:30 am (0530 GMT), killing at least 18, interior and defence ministry officials said.
“I saw the bomber trying to pass the barriers, but he blew up his vehicle. The concrete T-walls collapsed and I fell on the ground,” said Ali, a policeman at the Alwiyah station who only gave his first name. He said he was not injured thanks to the walls, but that his colleagues who had been standing at the gate of the station had been torn apart.
Human remains and shrapnel from the bomb were scattered for about 100 metres, and security forces cordoned off the scene, said an AFP correspondent. Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi condemned the attacks in a statement released by his office.
Baghdad provincial council member Mohammed al-Rubaie, who was at the scene of the Alwiyah explosion, said these attacks are a challenge against Iraq and the political process, “because the terrorists want to confirm that they exist here just before the departure of U.S. soldiers”.
An Interior Ministry official put the toll from that attack at 14 dead and 25 wounded, while a Defence Ministry official said 15 people were killed and 25 wounded.
Mr. Rubaie said seven of the wounded were policemen, including one woman. The bomber tried to enter the Alwiyah station but was blocked by concrete walls, he said.