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Violence in Iraq kills at least 17 people

More than 610 people have been killed in attacks and clashes since the beginning of the month

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Bombings and shootings in Iraq, including two blasts in the capital, killed at least 17 people Sunday, officials said, as the country struggles to curb a year-long surge in violence.

The deadliest attack was a bomb that exploded on a highway between Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, killing three police and four detainees who had been captured during a raid.

In north Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near bicycle shops in the Sadr City area, killing at least two people and wounding at least seven, while another bombing in the Hurriyah area wounded at least three more people.

Three shootings in the northern city of Mosul -- one of the most dangerous parts of the country -- killed four people, including the brother of a provincial councilor and a health directorate employee.

And a bomb exploded in a house in the Siniyah area north of Baghdad, killing a policeman and wounding two others.

Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in violence, driven by widespread discontent among members of the Sunni Arab minority and the bloody civil war in neighboring Syria that security forces have failed to curb.

All of the city of Fallujah -- just a short drive from Baghdad -- and part of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, to its west, have been held by anti-government fighters since early January.

More than 610 people have been killed in attacks and clashes since the beginning of the month, and over 1,600 since Jan. 1, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.