Iraq violence kills 26

Eight civilians were among 26 people killed in violence in Iraq on Tuesday, as the Shiite-led government hailed arrests made in an offensive against suspected insurgents.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to press ahead with a campaign to try to stem the bloodshed, which has claimed more than 3,500 lives already this year.

Six car bombs south of the capital killed six civilians and a policeman, and wounded 98 people, police and doctors said.

Two car bombs hit a bus and taxi station in Amara. Two more hit near Hilla, while the others struck in crowded streets in Nasiriyah.

North of Baghdad, separate bombings at a livestock market and a police station killed three people, including a policeman, and wounded nine others, security and medical officials said.

And sixteen militants were killed north of the capital.

Nine died and four were wounded in an apparent dispute between militant groups, when a bomb targeting a vehicle exploded south of the ethnically divided northern oil hub of Kirkuk.

Security officials said the slain militants were Al-Qaeda loyalists and included one Kurd and one Turkmen.

They said the bombing was carried out by Sunni militant group Ansar al-Sunna in revenge for an earlier attack on relatives of their fighters.

Seven other militants were killed by security forces north of Baghdad in two separate clashes, officials said.

Security forces have mounted some of the biggest operations targeting militants since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops, but analysts and diplomats say Iraq is not tackling the root causes of the unrest.

A top general said security forces arrested 116 militants on Tuesday, including dozens of Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, destroyed six of their vehicles, two training camps and a site where car bombs were being made.

Violence has surged this year to levels not seen since Iraq was emerging from a brutal sectarian war in 2008.

Analysts and diplomats link the bloodshed to anger among the Sunni Arab minority over their alleged ill-treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.