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Apr 19, 2:42 PM EDT

Bombs targeting soldiers, shoppers kill 16 in Iraq


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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Attacks across Iraq, including a series of bombings targeting shoppers in a Sunni neighborhood in the country's capital, killed at least 16 people Saturday, authorities said.

The deadliest attacks struck Baghdad's predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Dora. Saturday morning, police said two bombs exploded on busy commercial streets, killing four people. That night, police said three more bomb blasts in the same area killed five people and wounded 10.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, though Shiite militants have retaliated in the past for Sunni insurgent groups killing their own. The Sunni-led violence, part of a series of stepped-up attacks since last year, aims at undermining Iraq's Shiite-led government ahead of a crucial vote later this month.

Outside of Baghdad, police said a suicide bomber killed five soldiers and wounded eight at a checkpoint in Mishada, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the capital. Also Saturday, police said a roadside bomb killed two soldiers on patrol and wounded five people in Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad.

Health officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

Last year, Iraq weathered its deadliest bout of violence since it pulled back from the brink of civil war in 2008. United Nations figures show that violence killed 8,868 people in 2012.

Saturday's attacks also come as Iraq is heading toward a crucial parliamentary election on April 30, its first since the 2011 U.S. troop pullout.

More than 9,000 candidates will vie for 328 seats in parliament, but there will be no balloting in parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, which is engulfed in clashes between security forces and al-Qaida-inspired militants. The militants have seized and are continuing to hold parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and nearly all of the nearby city of Fallujah.

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