Blasts aimed at Iraqi Shiites and police kill 23

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BAGHDAD — Insurgents launched a wave of attacks across Iraq today, mostly targeting Shiite communities and pilgrims and killing at least 23 people, officials said.

In addition, four policemen were killed today in the northern city of Kirkuk while trying to defuse a bomb, according to police Col. Taha Salaheddin.

The attacks appeared aimed at undermining security and confidence in the government by fomenting sectarian conflict. Overall violence has dropped since the nation neared a civil war several years ago, but attacks of a sectarian nature come almost daily, and government forces seem powerless to prevent them.

Although violence has ebbed since the height of the insurgency in the past, some groups presumed to be primarily Sunni extremists are still able to launch deadly attacks nationwide against government officials or civilians. Shiite pilgrims are one of their favorite targets.

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