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Car bombs target killing 13 in Baghdad

Two car bombs targeted Sunday morning commuters in Baghdad, killing at least 13 civilians, officials said, amid an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital.

The blasts came a day after a senior U.S. official wrapped up a three-day visit to Iraq to meet with top political leaders to discuss the security crisis in the vast Sunni-dominated province of Anbar.

The deadliest blast occurred at a bustling bus station in central Baghdad when an explosives-laden car exploded outside, killing at least nine people and wounding 16, a police officer said. Thousands of people use the bus station every day or pass through the area. Last Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of security force recruits nearby, killing nearly two dozen.

Another parked car bomb targeted a gathering of buses and taxis in Baghdad's northern Hurriyah neighbourhood, killing four civilians and wounding 12, the same police officer said.

Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information.

The attacks come as Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni tribal militias in Anbar have been battling al-Qaida-linked militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Iraqi forces have yet to militarily try to reassert control over Fallujah, which remains in the hands of the militants and tribal gunmen opposed to the central government. Militants and tribal fighters also control part of the provincial capital, Ramadi. Sporadic clashes there and in surrounding areas continue to take place.

Thousands of families have left the area, fearing a government offensive. Clashes between militants and security forces have killed least 60 people since the violence erupted after the Dec. 28 arrest of a Sunni lawmaker sought on terrorism charges and the dismantling of an anti-government Sunni protest camp in Ramadi.

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