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At least 36 killed in series of 20 explosions across Iraq

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More than 20 bombs hit cities and towns across Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 36 and wounding more than 100, police and hospital sources said, raising fears of sectarian strife in a country keen to show it can now maintain security.

In Baghdad, three car bombs, two roadside bombs and one suicide car bomb hit mainly Shiite areas in what looked like coordinated attacks, killing 15 people and wounding 61, the sources said.

Two car bombs and three roadside bombs aimed at police and army patrols in the northern oil city of Kirkuk killed eight people and wounded 26, police and hospital sources said.

Another two rocked Samarra killing three people; a roadside bomb exploded in Taji and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Baquba, the sources said, adding that security forces appeared to have been the targets.

Health minister targeted

Some critics say the government is not doing enough to stem the threat from militants.

“They are saying they are changing security plans, they are redeploying troops but it is like they are changing the decorations only,” Ali Al-Haidari, an Iraqi security expert, told Reuters.

“Is there any new technology, any new laws supporting the security process? The answer is no. The natural result for that is there are gaps here and there.”

The biggest attack in Baghdad was in the Kadhimiya district, where a car bomb killed five and wounded 24, sources said.

A car bomb targeting the health minister’s motorcade went off in the central Haifa district, killing two civilians and wounding at least four of the minister's guards, a police source said. His spokesman said five guards were wounded in the attack.

Car and roadside bombs also went off in Baghdad’s Amil, Palestine Street and Zaafaraniya districts.

Elsewhere in northern Iraq, two car bombs targeting government-backed Sunni Sahwa militia went off in Samarra, two blasts hit Baquba, a roadside bomb exploded in Mosul and another roadside device exploded in Taji.

There were also shooting incidents and one policeman was killed in the town of Hadid, 10 kms west of Baquba, when gunmen opened fire on the station where he worked from a passing car, police sources said.

In the mainly Sunni Muslim province of Anbar in the west, two car bombs targeting police killed four and wounded 10 in Ramadi while a roadside bomb wounded four people in Falluja.

Iraq’s security in shambles

Late March, Iraq invited Arab officials to attend the Arab Summit in Baghdad. There were no reported attacks occurring during the Arab meeting due to tight security measures that Iraqi citizens complained of. The security measures during the summit heavily exacerbated traffic jam in an already crowded Baghdad.

While violence has fallen sharply in Iraq compared to its peak in 2006 and 2007, amid a bloody sectarian war, militant groups including the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s front organization in the country, remain active, and attacks common.

“The main reason for the failure to eliminate violence completely and control the leaders of the terrorist organizations is the multiplicity of security services,” one high-ranking interior ministry officer in Baghdad told AFP.

“Each department operates in accordance with instructions ... that are different from the other one, and that complicates cooperation among them,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some critics blame infiltration of political parties by militants as reason. Some say warring political parties ally with militants to combat other competitor parties.