BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants unleashed a wave of suicide attacks across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 29 people and wounding dozens, officials said.
The deadliest attack took place in the southern province of Dhi Qar (also known as Nasiriyah) when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a restaurant that is frequented by Shiite paramilitary militia fighters, killing at least 14 people.
Another 27 people were wounded in the attack on the well-known restaurant, which is located on the main highway that links the capital, Baghdad, with the southern provinces, a police officer said.
Dhi Qar is located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad
At around the same time, a suicide car bomber set off his explosives-laden vehicle in a commercial area in the oil-rich city of Basra, killing at least five people and wounding 10 others, another police officer said.
Pieces of flesh and debris littered the bloodstained pavement as thick black smoke billowed from the area. The attack also damaged up to 30 cars.
Basra is located about 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a security checkpoint in the capital's northeastern suburb of Sadr al-Qanat, killing six troops and wounding 13 others.
Another suicide car bomber hit a headquarters of paramilitary troops in the town of Mishahda, 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Baghdad, killing four troops and wounding 10 others.
Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
The Islamic State group seized much of northern and western in Iraq in the summer of 2014 and established a self-styled Islamic caliphate in the areas of Iraq and Syria under its control, imposing a violent version of Islamic law.
The Iraqi army, along with pro-government militias, launched an offensive last month aimed at retaking Mosul, the country's second largest city, which is under IS control. Their progress in villages outside the city has been slowed by roadside bombs and other booby traps.
Iraqi officials said troops on Monday recaptured a key village outside Mosul after days of heavy fighting. Iraqi forces retook the village of al-Nasr, near the Tigris river, after destroying six suicide car bombers that had tried to attack them, Lt. Col. Mohammed al-Wagaa of the Iraqi army said.
As Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition have advanced against IS on a number of fronts in recent months, extremists have retaliated with a number of large scale bombings targeting civilians.
According to the United Nations figures, at least 1,119 Iraqis were killed and 1,561 were wounded in March, a sharp increase from the previous month, when 670 people were killed and 1,290 wounded. The figures include 575 civilians killed and another 1,196 wounded. The other casualties were Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga and government-allied militiamen.
Associated Press writers Murtada Faraj in Baghdad, Nabil al-Jurani in Basra, Iraq and Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq contributed to this report.