A suicide bomb attack in northern Iraq has killed the head of the country's intelligence academy. Meanwhile, a Sunni judge has also died in a separate incident north of Baghdad.
The attacker targeted Brigadier General Awni Ali's residence in the northern city of Tal Afar on Saturday, detonating his explosives near the intelligence officer's car.
At least two of his body guards were also killed by the blast. According to police, the brigadier general was the head of Iraq's intelligence academy.
One suicide bomber was reportedly shot dead outside of the brigadier general's home, before the second attacker detonated his explosives.
"Guards killed one suicide bomber, but when the brigadier general and his bodyguards went out another bomber ran among them and blew himself up," a local official told the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, a Sunni Arab judge was killed in an explosion in the village of Sulaiman Pak, north of the capital, Baghdad. Ahmed al-Bayati died when a magnetic "sticky bomb" attached to his car exploded. Al-Bayati, who previously served as an anti-terror investigator, had received death threats in the past. Last year, he paid a ransom of $150,000 to free his son from kidnappers.
And in the village of Heet, an army lieutenant was killed by a roadside bomb blast while two other soldiers were injured.
Sunni unrest in western Iraq
Although violence dropped drastically after the 2006-2007 surge of American troops in Iraq, the number of attacks has risen since the US military withdrew in December of 2011.
Sunni militant groups linked to al Qaeda have launched a renewed campaign of bombings and shootings since last summer. The spike in violence comes during a time of heightened political tension between the Shiite-led government and the Sunni minority population, which was politically dominant during the rule of deceased dictator Saddam Hussein.
Sunnis have been holding regular protests in western Iraq, accusing Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of neglecting them. They are calling for Maliki to step down, release Sunnis detained by authorities and roll back policies they say discriminate against Sunnis.
slk/ccp (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)