A suicide attack killed a senior Iraqi intelligence officer outside his home near the main northern city of Mosul on Saturday, officials said. Brigadier General Aouni Ali, the head of Iraq's main intelligence academy, and two of his guards were killed in the bomb blast in Tal Afar, near Mosul, police and a doctor said. The suicide bomb was one of a spate of bombings nationwide that left five dead, the latest in an uptick in violence that comes as the country grapples with nearly two months of anti-government protests and a political crisis. No organisation immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda often target security forces and government officials in a bid to push Iraq back to the sectarian bloodshed that blighted it from 2005 to 2008. Iraq has seen an increase in attacks in recent weeks, with January the deadliest month since September, according to an AFP tally, though levels of violence remain markedly lower than during the peak of the sectarian war in 2006 and 2007.