Baghdad: Two explosions in a Shiite neighbourhood of eastern Baghdad killed 17 people and wounded around 50 others, Iraqi officials said.

The blasts in the Sadr City neighbourhood on Thursday night, coming a day after attacks across the capital killed 25 people, served as a reminder of the lengths to which Sunni militants are trying to go in order to re-ignite sectarian tensions as American forces prepare to go home.

First a bomb went off near a house in a narrow alley in Sadr City, said two police officials.

Then as people were gathered at the site of the blast, another bomb went off minutes later. All of the 17 dead were killed in the second, more powerful explosion.

Two of the dead were women, and two were police officers.

A barber in Sadr City, Hassan Rahim, said he was cutting a customer's hair when he heard the first explosion.

"We rushed outside the shop and we saw fire and smoke near the houses," he said.

Reflecting just how much such violence has become a part of Iraqis' daily lives, Rahim then went back inside his shop to continue working.

That's when the second blast went off.

"I saw dead people on the ground and several burning cars.

We helped take the wounded to the hospital until the arrival of the ambulances," he said.

"The security forces should do a better job, otherwise we expect more attacks in Sadr city. More people here are having the feeling that the security forces cannot protect people," he said.

A hospital official confirmed the causalities.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release information.

Violence has ebbed across Iraq, but deadly bombings and shootings still occur almost daily as US troops prepare to leave by the end of the year.