Anti-Qaeda fighter among three killed in Iraq attacks

Attacks in north Iraq mostly against security forces killed three people on Monday, the latest in violence that has raised tensions in a country only a few years removed from brutal sectarian conflict.

In the disputed province of Kirkuk, separate gun attacks killed an anti-Qaeda militiaman and a private generator operator, while a roadside bomb in the main northern city of Mosul left a police colonel dead, security and medical officials said.

Both areas are home to substantial populations of Sunni Arabs, the minority community that has for months held demonstrations against alleged government targeting and discrimination.

Analysts say government policies that have disenfranchised Iraqi Sunnis, coupled with the authorities' refusal to make any major concessions to the protesters, have given militant groups fuel and room to manoeuvre among the disillusioned community.

The violence comes amid myriad political rows and fears that civil war in neighbouring Syria could spill over into Iraq and plunge the country further into crisis.

Iraq is struggling to contain a wave of violence that has killed more than 440 people so far this month -- the second month in a row in which more than 400 people have died in unrest.

The violence has decreased from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, killing at least 200 people each month so far this year.