More than 70 killed in attacks across Iraq

505064335-59211.jpgMARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – An Iraqi man inspects damages at the Mar Afram Syriac Orthodox Church following an explosion Monday in Kirkuk.
By Annie Gowen,

BAGHDAD — More than 70 people were killed and dozens more were wounded Monday morning in a string of violent attacks around Iraq, police and government officials said.

In the worst incident, two bombs exploded in a busy market in the city center of Kut, killing 31 and injuring more than 50, officials said.

It was one of the worst days of violence in Iraq this year, and followed a period of calm that had fallen over the county during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in early August.

Baghdad was roiled by two car bombs and other explosions that killed at least one person and injured a dozen more.

South of Baghdad, in the normally quiet cities of Najaf and Karbala, three suicide bombers attacked local police stations, leaving 19 dead.

In Diyala province, long a stronghold of al-Qaeda insurgents, 14 people were killed in five car bombings and shootings by assailants wielding AK-47s. A local police spokesman there said commanders from the Sons of Iraq group were targeted, though none were killed.

Elsewhere, in Tikrit, a car bomb killed four people outside a local government building. And in Kirkuk, a bomb exploded near a church, killing one.

The attacks came as Iraqi leaders have started to debate whether or not to ask a small contingent of U.S. troops to stay on after the planned withdrawal deadline of Dec. 31.

Special correspondents Othman Almukhtar in Anbar province and Hassan Alshimmari in Diyala province contributed to this report.