10 dead as Iraq claims arrest of 'Qaeda leader'

Violence in Iraq killed 10 people Friday while security forces said they arrested a top Al-Qaeda leader as they look to stem spiralling violence with wide-ranging operations against insurgents.

Diplomats and analysts say the authorities are failing to tackle the root causes of months of heightened unrest, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed to press on with the anti-insurgent campaign, which is among the biggest of its kind since US forces withdrew in December 2011.

Friday's violence struck across the country -- in Baghdad and to its north and south -- with gun and bomb attacks hitting both Shiite and Sunni areas.

In one of the deadliest incidents, gunmen burst into a house in a mostly Shiite town north of Baghdad and killed three people.

Violence in Hilla, south of the capital but also predominantly Shiite, left two dead.

And seven separate shootings and bombings in the capital Baghdad and Mosul, a mostly Sunni Arab city in the north , killed at least five people and wounded 16.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for a joint command centre in northern Iraq said security forces arrested seven Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda.

One of them was the self-styled finance minister of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an Al-Qaeda front group, who had reportedly tried to enter Iraq from neighbouring Syria with fake documents.

No further details were given about the arrests.

Unrest has surged in Iraq this year to levels not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Attacks have killed more than 3,580 people since the beginning of 2013, according to figures compiled by AFP.

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

But the prime minister has vowed to press on with the security force operations, insisting they are producing results, pointing to the arrest of hundreds of alleged militants and the killing of dozens of others.