BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Twin roadside bombs exploded in the Iraqi city of Baquba on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 26, police said, the latest in a wave of summer attacks close to the capital Baghdad.
One bomb detonated in a cafe in the center of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, while the other explosion hit an ice cream shop on a commercial street, police said.
Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past week in which scores of Iraqi civilians were killed during celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iraq is experiencing some of its worst violence in at least five years.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave a defiant response to the Ramadan bombings, promising in a speech to hunt down those behind the wave of attacks.
Al Qaeda’s merged Iraq and Syria branch has said recent attacks were in response to a security crackdown launched by Baghdad.
“The operations we have started - to go after the terrorist gangs and those who stand behind them - will continue unabated,” Maliki said in a short speech broadcast on state television.
“We won’t stop until we protect our people from all the means used for killing, crime and terrorism.”
Iraq launched its “Avenge the Martyrs” security campaign after mass jailbreaks last month, also claimed by al Qaeda, which has been boosted by the war in neighboring Syria and discontent among Iraq’s minority Sunni population.
Maliki said security forces had arrested more than 800 suspects and seized large amounts of explosives and weapons since the security campaign started last month.
It has been one of the deadliest Ramadan holidays in years in Iraq, where Sunni Islamist militants are waging an insurgency against Maliki’s Shi‘ite-led government.
Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy and a Reuters reporter in Baquba; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Kevin Liffey