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Iraqi officials say car bombings in and around Baghdad kill at least 23 people

Iraqi civilians inspect the site of a car bomb in a commercial area in the Hurriyah neighborhood of northern Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Iraqi officials say car bombings on Monday in and near Baghdad have killed and wounded scores of people. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

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Iraqi civilians inspect the site of a car bomb in a commercial area in the Hurriyah neighborhood of northern Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Iraqi officials say car bombings on Monday in and near Baghdad have killed and wounded scores of people. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD - A new series of car bombings in and around Baghdad on Monday killed at least 23 people, officials said, as Iraq's Shiite-led government grapples with a stubborn Sunni extremist-led insurgency in the western Anbar province.

In the town of Mahmoudiya, a car bomb went off near the local council building, followed by another at a nearby outdoor market, a police officer said. The blasts in the town, located about 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Baghdad, killed nine people and wounded 28.

In Baghdad, an explosives-laden car ripped through a commercial area in the northern Hurriyah neighbourhood, killing four people and wounding 11, he added. Three bystanders were killed and nine were wounded in another car bomb explosion in the city's eastern Baladiyat neighbourhood, another police officer said.

Also, a sticky bomb attached to a minibus exploded in Baghdad's Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City, Killing one passenger and wounding four others, police said.

After nightfall, a car bomb went off near an out-door market in Baghdad's Abdu Dashir district, killing six shoppers and wounding 14 others, they added.

Police also found four bodies dumped in the street of the capital's southwestern Amil neighbourhood. The four, three men and a woman, had suffered gun shots and had no ID cards.

Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but co-ordinated bombings bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq. The group, emboldened by the successes of its fellow militants in the civil war next door in Syria and by widespread Sunni anger at the Iraqi government, has taken credit for previous attacks against Shiites, security forces and government buildings.

Meanwhile, in Iraq's western Anbar province, fierce fighting has been raging for over a month between government forces and allied tribal militiamen on one side, and al-Qaida-linked militants on the other. Since late last month, the militants have seized parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and the city centre of the nearby city of Fallujah.

Also on Monday, a Defence Ministry statement said military operations overnight in Ramadi killed 57 militants. The statement didn't say whether the militants were killed in clashes or airstrikes. In Fallujah, security forces are still besieging the city, with sporadic clashes taking place on its outskirts.

Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year. Last year, the country saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year in Iraq.

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Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

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Follow Sinan Salaheddin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sinansm

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