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Bomb blasts strike Iraqi cities

A series of car bombs killed at least 14 people across Iraq early on Wednesday. The deadliest explosion took place in the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad - the car bomb killed nine people and wounded 30, according to a police source. In the southern city of Hilla at least four were killed in another car bomb. Officials said young students were killed in the blast, which went off outside a secondary school for girls. A third blast detonated in central Baghdad, killing a passerby and wounding nine others. The attack allegedly targeted an Interior Ministry official, but was unsuccessful. The strikes come a day before a Muslim festival to mark the Islamic New Year. The holiday lands on the first day of the holy month of Muharram, which is of special significance to Shi'ite Muslims - often the target of Sunni Islamist insurgents. While the regularity of violent attacks in Iraq has considerably diminished since sectarian fighting peaked half a decade ago, insurgents have lately been carrying out large-scale, monthly coordinated attacks. The strikes often consist of a large number of bomb attacks in cities across Iraq that go off at around the same time.

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