Soldiers shot and burned in northern Iraq

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At least 22 people were killed across northern Iraq on Sunday, including five soldiers who were shot dead by gunmen who then burned their bodies, police and military sources said.

The attackers ambushed two taxis carrying soldiers on the road to Mosul from Baghdad and killed the five officers in Qaiyara town, 290 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, military sources said.

“One of the cars escaped the ambush but the second one could not and the militants shot dead five soldiers and burned their bodies after they killed them,” a senior intelligence military officer, who declined to be named, said.

A medical source at the morgue in Mosul confirmed the soldiers’ corpses had been burned.

In other incidents, three people were killed and 15 wounded when a car bomb exploded in Balad, 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, police said.

Two people were also shot dead near their homes in eastern Mosul, 390 kilometers north of Baghdad, police said.

Roadside bombs also killed two members of a displaced Shiite family who had recently returned to their home. The attack wounded nine others in central Baquba, 65 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, police said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks but Sunni Islamist militants have been regaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government in recent months, emboldened by the civil war in Syria.

Increased attacks in Iraq have raised fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict. More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in July, the highest monthly death toll since 2008,according to the United Nations.

On Friday, a suicide bomber killed 25 people and wounded more than 50 in Baghdad when he detonated his explosives inside a busy cafe near a park.

Eighteen months since the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, deep-rooted sectarian tensions have been aggravated by the Syria’s war and the growing political divisions between Shiite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish factions.

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