Seven killed in spate of Iraq attacks

Attacks mostly targeting Iraqi security forces north of Baghdad killed seven people on Thursday, security and medical officials said, the latest in an uptick in nationwide violence.

Near the main northern city of Mosul, gunmen killed two brothers -- a policeman and a soldier -- inside their home, according to officials. The soldier was a bodyguard for Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi.

Also close to Mosul, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two policemen and wounded one other.

Even as unrest has declined nationwide from its peak in 2006 and 2007, Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province remain one of the most violent regions of the country on a per capita basis, according to the Iraq Body Count watchdog.

And just north of Baghdad, separate shootings and bombings in Balad and Dujail left three people dead, including two anti-Qaeda militiamen, and seven people wounded.

No organisation immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants including Al-Qaeda's front group often target security forces and officials in a bid to destabilise the government and push the country back towards the sectarian conflict that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.

The violence is the latest in a wave of unrest including car bombs and suicide attacks amid weeks of rallies in Sunni-majority areas calling for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.