(AP) Insurgents bent on destabilizing Iraq killed at least 23 people in eight separate attacks on Sunday, including five kidnapped Iraqi soldiers and an 8-year-old child, officials said.
The boldest attack was near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where militants set up a fake security checkpoint, captured five soldiers and shot them dead, a police officer said. The soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and returning to base in a taxi, he added.
Inside Mosul, other gunmen in a speeding car shot and killed a grocer, he said, adding that the motive was not immediately clear. The grocer was a member of the Shabak ethnic group, which has its own distinct language and religious beliefs.
Mosul, a former insurgent stronghold, is about 360 kilometers (220 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Another police officer said a car bomb exploded as a judge drove past in the northern town of Balad, killing three nurses and a man who had been walking nearby. Thirteen other people were wounded, including the judge, his brother and the driver, he added.
In Baghdad's southeastern and largely Shiite neighborhood of al-Ameen, a car bomb at a market killed three civilians and wounded 13 others, a police officer said. Three other civilians were killed and six wounded when a bomb attached to a car exploded while passing through the capital's eastern Zayona neighborhood, he said. Another bomb went off in a commercial area in the western Ghazaliya area, killing two people and wounding seven others.
In the town of Madain, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed four other civilians and wounded 12, another police officer said.
Also Sunday, a bomb exploded near a policeman's house near the city of Baqouba, killing his 8-year old son and wounding 11 other people, police said. The policeman was unharmed. Baqouba is about 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad.
Five medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.
Attacks have been on the rise in Iraq since a deadly security crackdown in April on a Sunni protest camp. More than 3,000 people have been killed in violence during the past few months, raising fears the country could see an even deadlier, sectarian round of bloodshed similar to what brought the country to the edge of civil war in 2006 and 2007.