BAGHDAD (AP) — A bomb exploded near a soccer field while teenagers were playing south of Baghdad, the deadliest of three attacks that left eight dead in Iraq on Thursday, according to authorities.
The blast struck in Madain, a mixed town of Sunni and Shiite Muslims about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of the Iraqi capital. Police said at least five people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack.
Violence has surged in Iraq in recent months, with the country weathering its deadliest bout of violence since it was pulling back from the brink of civil war in 2008. United Nations figures released this week showed that at least 979 people, most of them civilians, were killed in September alone.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's bombing. Much of the recent violence is the work of Iraq's al-Qaida arm, which frequently targets civilian areas in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government.
Soccer fields and other areas that are hard to protect have been increasingly targeted by militants in recent months. A similar bomb attack on a youth soccer game in Madain in late August left at least three dead.
Elsewhere on Thursday, authorities said gunmen killed two police officers at checkpoint in the restive city of Mosul. Another person was shot dead at a drug store in the city, police said. Mosul is a former Sunni insurgent stronghold about 360 kilometers (220 miles) northwest of Baghdad that has been one of the hardest areas to tame since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized the release the information to journalists.