10 killed in Iraq bus bombings

KUT: Ten people were killed and 19 wounded when bombs exploded on two buses near the southern Iraqi city of Kut on Monday, underscoring the nation's volatile security situation.

The afternoon blasts occurred within half an hour of each other, and women and children were among the casualties, police and hospital officials told AFP.

"Sticky bombs were attached to two buses and 10 people were killed," police lieutenant Mohammed Fadhil said. "Nineteen people were wounded."

The first bomb exploded at around 2.30pm (1130 GMT) 15 kilometres (nine miles) north of Kut, causing eight deaths and leaving eight wounded, he said.

The second blast occurred half an hour later 40 kilometres north of the southern city, the regional capital of Wasit province, leading to two deaths and 11 wounded, according to Fadhil.

"Women and children are among the casualties," he said.

Maher Ghanem Morad, chief of Wasit health authority, confirmed that Al Zahra hospital in Kut had received 10 bodies and was treating 19 wounded, including women and children.

Kut is 175 kilometres southeast of Baghdad, close to the border with Iran.

The latest attacks come amid mounting concern about Iraq's security situation and less than a week after two massive truck bombings left at least 95 people dead and about 600 wounded in Baghdad.

Wednesday's attacks at the ministries of finance and foreign affairs culminated in the worst day of violence in Iraq for 18 months and prompted the arrests of 11 top security officials on suspicion of collusion with insurgents.

On Sunday Iraqi officials showed a video of a Saddam Hussein loyalist confessing to orchestrating the finance ministry bombing.

The footage showed former police chief Wissam Ali Kadhem Ibrahim admit to plotting the attack. Major-General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Iraqi Army's Baghdad operations, told reporters Ibrahim was the main person responsible.

The second truck bombing on Wednesday occurred just minutes later at the foreign ministry.

Government officials on Sunday confirmed they had halted the dismantling of blast-proof concrete security walls in the capital following last week's devastating attacks, confirming high level concern about recent violence.

The decision is a step back from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's plan to remove the blast walls to show that the security situation was improving.

Maliki said on Saturday that Iraq had taken "decisive measures to tackle the weak points" exposed by Wednesday's bombings.

But Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari went further, saying the country would witness more deadly attacks in the coming months because security forces were colluding with insurgents and the violence was getting worse.

He also made the first official admission that Wednesday's truck bombings signalled security gains made in the past year have recently unravelled, and called for a reappraisal of Iraq's entire security apparatus, saying it was not obtaining sufficient intelligence to counter the insurgent threat.