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Originally published September 3, 2013 at 6:11 AM | Page modified September 4, 2013 at 2:23 AM

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Attacks on security forces kill 12 in Iraq

Bombings and shootings targeting security forces across Iraq killed at least 12 people Wednesday, officials said, as authorities found the bodies of 16 people killed in an attack overnight on two Shiite families south of Baghdad.

Associated Press

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BAGHDAD —

Bombings and shootings targeting security forces across Iraq killed at least 12 people Wednesday, officials said, as authorities found the bodies of 16 people killed in an attack overnight on two Shiite families south of Baghdad.

The assault on the two families raised Tuesday's death toll in violence across the country to at least 83 people killed.

The killings come amid a spike in deadly violence in recent months as insurgents try to capitalize on rising sectarian and ethnic tensions. The scale of the bloodshed has risen to levels not seen since 2008, a time when Iraq was pulling back from the brink of civil war.

In Wednesday's attacks, five soldiers were killed and nine wounded when three bombs hit their convoy as they passed through the town of Tarmiyah, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, a police officer said. A suicide bomber also rammed his explosives-laden car into a local police barracks, killing five officers and wounding two civilians, another police officer said.

In Baghdad's eastern Basmaya district, gunmen armed with pistols fitted with silencers shot and killed a mechanic and his son, police said.

Overnight Tuesday, gunmen opened fire on the houses of two Shiite families in the town of Latifiyah and then planted bombs around them, a police officer said. Six children, five women and five men were killed, while nine people were wounded, he said.

Last Wednesday, gunmen shot dead a seven-member Shiite family in the same town, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad.

Sunni gunmen used to carry out brazen attacks against Shiite families in Sunni-dominated areas during the sectarian violence that engulfed the country after the U.S. invasion and peaked in 2006 and 2007. That prompted Shiite militant groups to retaliate. Shiite religious leaders and politicians have called for calm in response to the recent wave of violence, but some attacks on Sunni mosques are raising fears that Shiite armed groups are starting to retaliate.

Medical officials confirmed the causality figure in all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

More than 4,000 people have been killed over the past five months alone. That includes 804 Iraqis killed just last month, according to United Nations figures released earlier this week.

No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attacks, but coordinated car bombings and attacks on civilians and Iraqi security forces are a favorite tactic of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida. It typically does not lay claim to attacks for several days, if at all.

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