By Muhanad Mohammed
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombers and gunmen launched a string of attacks against security forces across Iraq, killing at least eight police and soldiers and wounding 20 others, security officials said on Monday.
Separately, a rocket fired from southeast Baghdad struck near the Rasheed Hotel in the central area of the capital late on Monday, killing three hotel employees, wounding eight others and setting ablaze three caravans, security sources said.
Attacks against Iraqi forces have been increasing as they prepare for the withdrawal of U.S. troops by December, more than eight years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
Militants struck the police and army in at least 11 attacks late on Sunday and on Monday in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and elsewhere.
A parked car bomb killed two Iraqi policemen and wounded four others when it exploded near a patrol in the center of the town of Saqlawiya, in Anbar province, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
In the capital, a bomber detonated his explosive vest near a security checkpoint, wounding five soldiers.
"The security forces were watching the suicide bomber. When he felt they would arrest him he blew himself up near an Iraqi army checkpoint," said Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi capital's security spokesman.
Another suicide bomber was shot dead by police at a government counter-terrorism office in central Haditha, 190 km (120 miles) northwest of Baghdad, but the bomber's explosive vest blew up and wounded an officer, police said.
Three police were killed when a roadside bomb exploded in the Mansour district of Baghdad.
Gunmen using silenced weapons shot dead a police lieutenant late on Sunday in Palestine Street, northeast Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.
In Kirkuk, an off-duty policeman was killed in front of his house in a drive-by shooting, while outside Mosul, a roadside bomb blew up near an army patrol, killing a soldier late on Sunday, police said.
In the town of Saadiya, northeast of Baghdad, gunmen in a speeding car killed Kurdish politician Saleh Shaker in front of a political party's headquarters.
Violence has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07 but Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militias continue to carry out bombings and other attacks. U.S. military officials say Iraq sees an average of 14 attacks a day.
Iraqi security officials have said Shi'ite and Sunni groups are behind a wave of killings of police and army officers.
June was the deadliest month in three years for U.S. forces in Iraq as 14 were killed in hostile incidents. It was the worst month for civilian deaths since January.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called on Iraq's political parties to discuss the sensitive issue of whether to extend the presence of some U.S. troops beyond the year-end deadline for their departure.
(Editing by Jim Loney)