AGHDAD: Car bombs and a shooting, mainly in Shiite areas, killed 20 people in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, officials said, as authorities released a rare photograph of a man they say is the leader of al-Qaida's local branch.
Police officials said the deadliest attack took place when two car bombs went off almost simultaneously in separate commercial streets in the Shiite neighborhood of Shula in northern Baghdad, killing nine and wounding 19.
A car bomb blast near a small restaurant in a Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad also killed four people and wounded 13 others, said police.
Earlier, a car bomb exploded near the al-Farasha pastry shop in the Shiite southeastern New Baghdad district, killing five people and wounding 13 others, including women and children.
Also in southeastern Baghdad, gunmen in a speeding car opened fire randomly on pedestrians in the Christian-Shiite neighborhood of Garage al-Amana, killing two people and wounding five others, said police.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. But coordinated bombings against Shiites and the security forces are frequently the work of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq, which has been emboldened by the successes of its fellow militants in the civil war next door in Syria and by widespread Sunni anger at the Shiite-led government.
Medics in a nearby hospital confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Interior Ministry published what they described as a recent photo of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The black-and-white picture shows a bearded man wearing a suit and tie.
The group is behind most of the attacks that have been taking place in Iraq. It is also playing a more active military role alongside other predominantly Sunni rebels in the fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its members have carried out attacks against Syrians near the porous border inside Iraq.
"The security forces were able to obtain a recent picture of the criminal terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and they also seized three correspondences written by him," said a statement posted on the ministry's website.
"The security forces urge citizens to come forward with any information that would help arresting this criminal," added the statement.
Since late December, members of Iraq's al-Qaida branch have taken over parts of Ramadi, capital of the largely Sunni province of Anbar. They also control the center of the nearby city of Fallujah. Government forces and allied tribes have been trying to wrest control back from the militants.