At least six people were killed on Monday including two girls under the age of four when a car bomb exploded near a market in the mixed Shiite-Sunni town of Baquba, outside of Baghdad. Twenty three others, the majority of whom were children, were also wounded in the attack.
The car bomb, which was detonated by remote-control according to the AP, had apparently targeted an Iraqi police patrol in the area, Iraqi security sources explained.
Three other civilians were also killed in a separate attack in Baquba by gunmen, according to local police.
Baquba has been the site of ongoing violence which has taken the lives of many Iraqi civilians and security personnel.
In Baghdad, three Iraqi policemen were killed when a car bomb exploded near their patrol in the central part of the capital.
In northern Baghdad, a civilian was killed and ten others wounded when a separate car bomb exploded.
South of Baghdad in the town of Mahmudya, a car bomb killed one civilian injured and five other Iraqis including two policemen, according to Reuters.
Pressure mounts against Jaafari
Meanwhile, pressure is growing on Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari by Sunni and Kurdish politicians not to seek a new term in office as sectarian strife mounts across Iraq.
Sunnis have blamed Al Jaafari for the attacks on Sunni mosques after the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra at the end of last month.
More than 500 people have died since the shrine was bombed on February 22.
Some, such as Sunni leader Khalaf Al Olayan, said Iraq has gone from “bad to worse” under Al Jaafari'a leadership, according to the AP.
“Al Jaafari’s government failed to solve the chaos that followed the Samarra explosions and did not take any measures to solve the security crisis that could have pushed the country into civil war.”
The nation's Kurdish minority has also expressed dissatisfaction with Jaafari, accusing the leader of disregarding their claims to oil-rich city of Kirkuk where they form a majority.
Kurdish leader Mahmoud Othman told reporters, “If Al Jaafari tries to form a government, he will not get any kind of cooperation.”
Iraqi's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani was one of the first leaders to publicly call for Jaafari to step down in an attempt to build a national consensus.
Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that a new Iraqi parliament will be called into session for the first time by the end of the week.
The parliament will then have one month within which to approve a prime minister and parliamentary cabinet, as well as elect a president.
The developments come as widespread sectarian violence throughout the country dims hopes that a viable coalition government will be formed in the near future.
US leader says Iraqi secterian conflict does not run "deep"
Sectarian violence has surged in Iraq in recent weeks as a result of the bombing. At least five people were killed in attacks on Sunday, three of whom during a gunfight in a Sunni mosque in the nation's capital.
Two relatives of a senior Sunni religious leader were killed as well during a drive-by shooting.
However, the US's top Pentagon general stated on Sunday he did not think a civil war was imminent in Iraq, and that the conflict's roots did not run "deep."
“I do not believe it has deep roots. I do not believe that they’re on the verge of civil war,” said General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He added, however, that “anything can happen.”
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