A spate of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces and their allies killed at least 10 people on Thursday, half in suicide bombings in the northern city of Mosul, officials said. The ability of insurgents to strike against Iraqi police and soldiers has raised worries about their competence as Iraq takes over its own security ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal of combat troops by the end of August.
Fears also are high that militants will take advantage of public anger over the political deadlock following inconclusive March 7 parliamentary elections to stage more attacks and foment more instability.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will meet his main rival Ayad Allawi for a second time in coming days to discuss the political situation. Maysoun al-Damlouji, a spokeswoman for the Allawi's bloc, declined to confirm the report but said both men had talked by phone on Wednesday.
The two men, who disagree over who should form the new government, last met on June 12.
Allawi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya list won two more seats than the prime minister's state of law bloc, but al-Maliki has formed an alliance with another mainly Shiite group. Their alliance is only four seats shy of a simple majority in the 325-seat legislature.
Meanwhile, Iraq's representative to the Arab League said his country has begun preparations to host next year's summit of the 22-member organization.
It would be the first high profile international event to be held in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-invasion.
Qais al-Azzawi said $100 million has been allocated to restore palaces that can be used for the event.
Some Arab officials have expressed concern about holding the meeting in Baghdad, citing security conditions and the continuing presence of U.S. troops.
Hesham Youssef, the Arab League spokesman, confirmed that the summit would be held in Iraq.
Hosting the summit would show that Iraq can "stand on its feet," al-Azzawi said.
Overall violence has dropped sharply in Iraq, but government security forces are frequently targeted as the American military prepares to end its combat mission in Iraq this summer, with the deadline for a full withdrawal by the end of next year. The worst of Thursday's violence came at a police checkpoint in the western al-Shefah neighborhood in Mosul, a city long considered al-Qaida's last stronghold in Iraq.
Police said a suicide bomber with explosives strapped around his body blew himself up near the checkpoint around 12:30 p.m., killing four policemen and wounding four others. The casualties were confirmed by Saad Abdul-Moneim, a Mosul morgue official. A half-hour earlier, two men detonated their explosives belts outside the main gate of an Iraqi army camp in eastern Mosul's Kokjali neighborhood. The police official and Abdul-Moneim said one soldier was killed and five more wounded in the blast. A third suicide attack west of the city was thwarted when police said they killed a man speeding in an explosives-packed vehicle toward a cattle market in the nearby town of Tal Afar. The deaths raised to eight the number of Iraqi security forces killed in two days of attacks in Mosul, which has long been a Sunni insurgent stronghold.
Gunmen also killed three policemen late Wednesday during a drive-by shooting against a police checkpoint in the western half of the city, police and hospital official said. A roadside bomb also killed two policemen and wounded eight people in eastern Baghdad, said a police official and a medic at the nearby Kindi hospital.
Gunmen wearing military uniforms also stormed a house in the Sulaybi village near Duluiyah, north of Baghdad, killing two brothers who were members of government-backed Sunni militias that fight al-Qaida in Iraq along with one of their wives, police and hospital officials said.
The Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.