* At least 37 killed in twin blasts in Kut
* Other deadly attacks in Tikrit, Najaf, Diyala
(Recasts with further attacks, adds official comment)
By Ahmed Rasheed and Khalid al-Ansary
BAGHDAD, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Suicide attackers and car bombs
struck cities across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 50 people
and wounding scores more in a rash of apparently coordinated
assaults carried out by affiliates of al Qaeda, authorities
In the worst attack, a roadside bomb followed by a car bomb
targeting police killed at least 37 people in Kut, a mainly
Shi'ite Muslim city 150 km (95 miles) southeast of the capital
Baghdad, police and health officials said.
Dhiyauddin Jalil, a director of local provincial health
department, said more than 68 people were wounded in the Kut
blasts and doctors in the city's main hospital said they were
struggling to treat casualties, many with severe burns.
"These attacks... are trying to influence the security
situation and undermine confidence in the security forces," said
Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad
security operations, blaming al Qaeda-linked groups.
Violence in Iraq has subsided dramatically since the height
of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07. But militants are
increasingly testing local security forces as the last American
troops prepare to withdraw by an end-of-year deadline.
Kut had been relatively quiet since August last year when a
suicide bomber killed 30 policemen and destroyed a police
station as the U.S. military ended combat operations in Iraq.
Dozens more were killed or wounded on Monday in bombings and
attacks in other cities, puncturing the relative calm of the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
At least eight people were killed and 14 wounded when a
suicide car bomber attacked a municipality building in Khan Bani
Saad, about 30 km (20 miles) northeast of Baghdad, in the
province of Diyala, two police sources said on Monday.
Two suicide bombers attacked an Iraqi counter-terrorism unit
in Tikrit, 150 km (95 miles) north of Baghdad, killing at least
two policemen and wounding six in a failed attempt to free al
Qaeda prisoners, a police official said.
One attacker detonated his suicide vest hoping to kill a
high-ranking counter-terrorism officer, and the other was shot
dead during the attack, said Captain Jassim al-Jibouri, an
officer with the Tikrit counter terrorism unit.
In the southern holy Shi'ite city of Najaf, at least three
people were killed and 19 more wounded when two car bombs
exploded, authorities said. Police captain Hadi al-Najafi in
Najaf said the bombs targeted a police building.
"There was a roll call for the police in the early morning.
The first killed and wounded policemen and as the ambulances
came the second car exploded," said Mussab Mohammad, a local
resident who witnessed the attacks.
Another man was killed and 12 people were wounded in
simultaneous car and motorbike bombings in the centre of the
northeastern city of Kirkuk, police sources said.
In al-Wajehiya, another town in Diyala province, a bomb in a
parked car went off near a government building, killing one
policeman and wounded 13, a police source said.
U.S. soldiers are scheduled to leave by the end of the year,
more than eight years after the U.S. invasion that toppled
Saddam Hussein. But Iraqi and U.S. officials are discussing
whether some stay on as trainers after 2011.
(Additional reporting by Muhanad Mohammed in Baghdad,; Aref
Mohammed in Basra, Khaled Farhan in Najaf; Writing by Patrick
Markey; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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