Wave of attacks kill 64 in Iraq

Insurgents have killed at least 64 people in a wave of attacks against Iraqi security forces.

They gunned down soldiers at an army post and bombed police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs, officials said.

The violence, which struck at least a dozen cities and wounded 285 people, highlighted militant attempts to sow havoc in the country and undermine the government.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but security forces are a frequent target of al-Qaida's Iraq branch, which has vowed to reassert itself and take back areas it was forced from before US troops withdrew from the country last year.

In Sunday's deadliest attack, gunmen stormed a small Iraqi Army outpost in the town of Dujail before dawn, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding eight more.

Hours later, a car bomb struck a group of police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs with the state-run Northern Oil Co outside the northern city of Kirkuk. Seven recruits were killed and 17 wounded. All the recruits were Sunni Muslims.

The carnage stretched into the country's south, where bombs stuck to two parked cars exploded in the Shiite-dominated city of Nasiriyah, southeast of Baghdad. A local official said two people were killed and three were wounded at the hotel, and one Iraqi policeman was wounded at the French consulate.

A string of smaller attacks also struck nine other cities, including Baghdad. Roadside bombs killed 17 people in Baghdad, including security forces, in four separate strikes. Also, gunmen killed three security officers and wounded a fourth at a checkpoint in the town of Abu Ghraib. Two gunmen were killed in the firefight, and a third was captured.

The rest of the attacks were car bombs that hit cities stretching from the southern port city of Basra, Iraq's second largest, to the city of Tal Afar northwest of Baghdad, near the Syrian border.

A statement by Iraq's Interior Ministry blamed al Qaida for the onslaught. "The attacks today on the markets and mosques are to provoke sectarian and political tensions," the statement said. "Our war against terrorism is continuing, and we are ready."