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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint in Baghdad killed at least three people while car bombs hit army and police patrols in two other cities, killing three others, police and hospital sources said on Sunday.
The attacks were the first serious violence since mid-April when a wave of bombings killed 36 people across the country, including an attack involving three car bombs and a suicide bomber in which 15 people died in Baghdad.
Police opened fire on Sunday when the suicide bomber refused their orders to stop at a checkpoint in the western Baghdad district of Mansour before he detonated his load, killing three officers, authorities said.
"It was a suicide bomber. The checkpoint guards told him to stop and he didn't, so they shot at him," said Raad Latif Hussein, an officer with a Baghdad police rescue unit.
In Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, a car bomb hit a passing Iraqi army patrol, killing two soldiers and wounding six people, while in Ramadi, 100 km (60 miles) west of the capital, another car bomb killed a police officer, and wounded six people, officials said.
Violence and bombings in Iraq have abated significantly since the bloody heights of sectarian war in 2006-2007 when tens of thousands of people were killed in intercommunal fighting that pitted Sunni against Shi'ite Muslims.
Sunni Islamists tied to al Qaeda have been weakened, but they vowed to keep up their insurgency after the withdrawal of the last American troops in December. Militants now often hit local security forces, government offices or Shi'ite targets to try to stir sectarian tensions.
Iraq's delicate government, split among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs, has been mired in a crisis over power-sharing since the last U.S. soldiers withdrew. The impasse has raised concern that the country could relapse into the kind of broad sectarian bloodshed that erupted soon after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
Reporting by Raheem Salman and Kareem Raheem; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Mark Heinrich