Insurgent attacks in Iraq kill at least 46

Violence at worst level since 2008


BAGHDAD — Insurgents in Iraq killed at least 46 people in numerous, scattered attacks around the country on Sunday, striking targets as varied as a coffee shop, a wedding party convoy, and a carload of off-duty soldiers.

The attacks are part of a months-long wave of killing that is the country’s worst spate of bloodshed since 2008. The violence raises questions about the security forces’ ability to protect the country and increases fears that Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions are pushing it toward the brink of civil war.

One of the day’s boldest attacks happened 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.

Inside Mosul, other gunmen in a fatally shot a grocer, he said, though the motive was not clear. The grocer was a member of the Shabak ethnic group, which has a distinct language and religious beliefs.

Mosul, a former insurgent stronghold, is almost 225 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 male pedestrian. Thirteen others were wounded, the officer added.

Attacks have been rising in Iraq since a deadly crackdown in April on a Sunni protest camp. More than 3,000 people have been killed in the last few months, raising fears of an even deadlier, sectarian round of bloodshed similar to what occurred in 2006 and 2007.