Baghdad: Violence in Baghdad and central Iraq on Monday killed at least 12 people, including eight soldiers struck by a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker, officials said.

The unrest came three days after attacks at a Tikrit mosque and later at a hospital treating victims killed 24, raising doubts over the capabilities of Iraqi security forces just months before all US forces must pulled out.

Monday's attack killed eight soldiers, including military intelligence Colonel Nuri Sabah al-Mashhadani and two other officers, and wounded 17 others, according to Salaheddin provincial health director Raid al-Juburi.

The explosion struck at 9:30 am (0630 GMT), targeting the main gate of a fortified compound housing several of Saddam's presidential palaces, which is home to several security offices and the mosque that was attacked on Friday.

The compound is referred to as Tikrit's "Green Zone", referring to the heavily secured centre of Baghdad where parliament and the US embassy reside.

Friday's violence was the worst in Tikrit since a March 29 al-Qaeda raid on the city's provincial council offices, which led to a bloody hours-long gunbattle with security forces that left 58 people dead.

Tikrit was the hometown of Saddam and is the capital of mainly Sunni Arab Salaheddin province, a key battleground in the insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.


(Agencies)