Iraq violence: Fresh wave of bombings kills 20

The site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's Hurriya neighbourhood (27 October 2013) The number of bombings in Baghdad and across Iraq has escalated recently

Three separate bombings in Iraq have killed at least 20 people, officials have said.

In the deadliest attack north of Baghdad, two suicide bombers killed at least 11 military and police officers overnight on Tuesday.

Another suicide bomber drove his car into a checkpoint near the northern city of Mosul. A third hit near a policeman's car in Tikrit.

Violence in Iraq has reached its highest level since 2008.

Almost 1,000 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in September alone, according to the UN.

Hundreds more have been killed in October.

The violence is often fuelled by sectarian divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims and much of it is blamed on al-Qaeda, who are known to target security forces and other government employees.

The scene of a car bomb blast in Baghdad's al-Shaab district (27 October 2013) Barely a day goes by in Iraq without there being an insurgent attack

Since the beginning of 2013, there have been just 16 days in which there were no deaths from violence in Iraq, the most recent of which was 24 May, according to figures compiled by the AFP news agency.

AFP says that about 30 suicide bombers have managed to detonate explosives in attacks this month, while others were killed before they could do so.

The violence comes as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki departs for the US, where he will lobby for increased support for the fight against insurgents.

Experts say that the Iraqi government should pursue longer-term efforts to build trust among citizens, especially among members of the country's Sunni minority.

'Traitors'

Police say that in the attack 50km (30 miles) north of Baghdad overnight on Tuesday, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives-laden belts among a group of soldiers and militiamen who had gathered in the orchard of a local Sunni leader, killing at least 11 people.

Iraqi soldiers arrest suspected militants during a raid and weapons search operation in North Babil province (27 October 2013) Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki wants increased US support for the fight against insurgents

Police told the AP news agency that the militiamen belonged to the Sahwa movement, also known as the Awakening Council, which was formed by US forces in 2007 to fight insurgents during the height of the Iraq war.

Correspondents say that ever since then it has been a target for Sunni hardliners who consider members of the movement to be traitors.

Police say that the bombers blew themselves up in sequence to maximise casualties - the first detonating his device among the group and the second at the gate of the compound as people tried to flee. At least 23 people were wounded.

In the Mosul attack 360km (225 miles) north-west of Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove his car into a checkpoint near a police station, killing three policemen and four civilians, police told AP.

When an ambulance arrived at the scene, gunmen opened fire on its crew, killing one and wounding three.

In the third attack, a roadside bomb on Wednesday exploded near a police captain's car in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, wounding him and killing a civilian, doctors said.

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