BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombings and shootings across Iraq on Saturday killed 19 people, including an ambush that targeted a convoy carrying a top military commander in the country, authorities said.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began early last month. The surge in the bloodshed is raising fears of a return to the widespread killing that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The deadliest attack involved an ambush targeting the motorcade of Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al-Zaidi, a top military commander, in an area north of Baghdad. Gunmen killed six of al-Zaidi's bodyguards and wounded four others, police said. The attack took place near the town of Adeim, about 100 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Al-Zaidi, who commands some government forces in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces, was not hurt in the attack, police said.
Gunmen also broke into the house of a former fighter in the anti-al-Qaida militia known as Sahwa, killing the man's wife and two daughters near the city of Baqouba. The father was not in the house at the time of the attack.
Sahwa joined with U.S. troops in the war against al-Qaida at the height of Iraq war. Ever since, it has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider them traitors. There were several attacks in July targeting current and former Sahwa members.
In another attack near Baqouba, gunmen shot and killed two Sahwa fighters as they were working on their farm. Baqouba is 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, police officials said gunmen in a car killed two off-duty policemen near the northern city of Mosul. In the central Iraqi city of Tikrit, a roadside bomb explosion killed a father and his son, authorities said.
In western Baghdad, a bomb went off near a line of car part stores, killing two people and wounding seven others, officials said. In the southeast of the capital, authorities said a blast missed a police patrol but killed two civilian passers-by.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the media.
With Saturday's attacks, at least 597 people have been killed since the start of Ramadan, according to an Associated Press count. Along with security officials being killed, there have been multiple bloody attacks targeting civilians in cafes as they broke their daily fast. It's been the bloodiest Ramadan in Iraq since 2007.