BAGHDAD, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- At least 31 people were killed and more than 250 others were wounded in a new wave of bombings and shootings in northern and central Iraq on Wednesday, meantime the country plunged with anti-government protests and political row.
The first attack took place in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, when a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden truck into the entrance of compound housing offices affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) under the Kurdish regional president Masoud Barzani in Atlas Street, a commercial area in central the city.
The huge explosion destroyed parts of the compound buildings and set fire into several nearby vehicles, while a rescue team and security members were working at the site to remove debris in search for more victims.
Afterwards, another blast took place when a car bomb, which was parked on the side of a road in al-Tarbiyah district in central Kirkuk, went off near the convoy of a KDP official who was coming to visit the scene of the first blast.
"A total of 16 people were killed and 190 others wounded by the two blasts," Governor of Kirkuk Najm al-Din Omer told reporters citing the provincial health reports.
Another attack targeted the offices of the Kurdish parties took place in the morning when a car bomb exploded near the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a Kurdish party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 200 km north of Baghdad.
As many as five people were killed and 40 others were wounded, many were Kurdish security members, during the blast which also caused severe damages to the office and nearby buildings.
The ethnically mixed cities of Kirkuk and Tuz-Khurmato are part of disputed areas claimed both by the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and Baghdad central government.
Meanwhile, three policemen were killed in Baghdad in the early morning hours, when gunmen attacked their police vehicle in al- Shaab district in northeastern the capital.
Later in the day, a roadside bomb struck a police vehicle in the same district, wounding a police officer and four policemen.
In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen broke into a house in al-Washash district in western Baghdad and shot dead two women.
Meanwhile, six soldiers and five civilians were wounded in three roadside bomb explosions in and near Baghdad during the day, the source said.
In west of Baghdad, a roadside bomb went off near a convoy of vehicles carrying mourners of the Sunni MP Eifan al-Issawi, who was killed the day before by a suicide bombing in the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of the capital. The blast damaged two of the convoy vehicles and wounding four mourners.
Issawi was a former leader of the Awakening Council groups, or Sahwa in Arabic.
The paramilitary groups consist of some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups who turned their rifles to fight al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
Other gunmen shot dead two civilians at a village near the city of Dujail, some 60 km north of the capital.
Meanwhile, explosions of two sticky bombs that were attached to two vehicles near the city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, leaving two people dead and nine others wounded, including six soldiers.
In addition, a soldier was gunned down by a sniper shot at an Iraqi army checkpoint in central Tikrit, the capital of the predominantly Sunni province of Salahudin.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but observers expect that Wednesday attacks are an attempt by the insurgent groups, including al-Qaida militant group, to show that they are capable of carrying out coordinated and high-profile attacks that could undermine the government's claims of providing security to Iraqis.
Al-Qaida front in Iraq frequently claimed the responsibility of most deadly attacks in the country, raising fears that the terrorist group could return to widespread violence, particularly, as Iraq is trying to avoid the spillover of violence from the ongoing conflict in the neighboring Syria.
The attacks also came amid growing anti-government protests in the Iraqi Sunni provinces of Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahudin and Diyala, as well as in Baghdad's Sunni districts, which began on December 23.
The Sunni protesters complained of injustice, marginalization, discrimination, double standards and politicization of the judicial system. They also accused Maliki of using judiciary to fight his political opponents in order to legally tame the opposition in the political process.
The angry Sunnis also said the Shiite-led Iraqi security forces were indiscriminately arresting their sons and torturing them. They accused the security forces of arresting women instead of their wanted male family members.