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Iraq officials: 2 attacks kill 8 people, including leader of local Sunni anti-al-Qaida militia

A bombing and a shooting on Saturday killed eight people in Iraq, including the leader of a local Sunni militia opposed to al-Qaida, authorities said.

The deadliest attack took place at night when a car bomb exploded on a main commercial street in Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 17 others, police said.

Several shops and food stalls were damaged by the attacks, police said.

Hours earlier Saturday, gunmen in two pickups shot and killed Sunni militia leader Bassem Mahmoud along with his two bodyguards in a drive-by shooting near the city of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. Baqouba is the provincial capital of Diyala.

Bassem headed a Sunni group known as Sahwa, which joined the fight against al-Qaida during the height of Iraq war.

A health official confirmed the deaths. All officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.

A string of attacks has killed more than 200 people since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The violence is a continuation of a surge of attacks that has been hitting Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's bombing, nor many of the other recent attacks. Sunnis extremists, such as al-Qaida's Iraq arm, are frequently blamed for bombing attacks targeting Shiites and Sahwa fighters.

Saturday's attacks come only a day after a deadly bombing at a Sunni mosque in Diyala that killed 22 people and wounded dozens of others.