Suicide bomber kills 14 in attack on Iraq military headquarters

RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) - A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives to a military headquarters in western Iraq and blew himself up outside it on Thursday, killing at least 14 people, the police said.

The attack, which appeared to be the latest incident in a wave of violence by Sunni insurgents against the Shi'ite-led government, took place near the city of Ramadi, 100km west of Baghdad. Most of the victims were soldiers.

In an attack south-east of Baghdad, gunmen shot dead three government-backed militiamen and wounded another two in Madaen, 30km from the capital.

In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen attacked a military checkpoint and shot dead two soldiers. Another group of gunmen shot dead two women in the west of the city and a Sunni sheikh was killed by a bomb planted on his car, the police said.

Iraqis have endured extreme violence for years, but since the start of 2013 the intensity of attacks on civilians has dramatically increased. More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in attacks in July, the worst monthly toll since 2008.

Tensions between Shi'ite, Kurdish and Sunni factions in the power-sharing government have spiked, and the renewed violence has sparked fears of a return to the severe sectarian bloodshed of 2006 to 2007.