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Bombings Rock Baquba Ahead of Iraq Elections

An Iraqi police commando stands next to the wreckage of a car at the site of suicide bombing in the restive city of Baquba northeast of Baghdad, 03 Mar 2010

A series of suicide bombings shook the northern Iraqi city of Baquba Wednesday, killing at least 31 people and injuring 48.

The three-stage attack is the deadliest in recent weeks and comes just days before Iraqis vote in parliamentary elections.

Police say the first two bombers drove explosive-packed cars and struck near government buildings and police stations. A third assailant rode in an ambulance with victims of the first two bombings and blew himself up at the city's emergency hospital.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility. Iraqi police imposed a curfew immediately following the attacks and say they have four suspects in custody.

Both U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned insurgents would increase attacks in an attempt to disrupt the vote.

Iraqi officials said many of those killed in Wednesday's attack were policemen sent to help secure the area for the elections.

The March 7 vote is just the second parliamentary ballot since the overthrow of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

It is considered a test of Iraq's ability to maintain its own security and conduct a smooth transition of power after years of war and sectarian fighting.

Video from the scene show several gutted buildings with debris strewn along the street.

Baquba is about 60 kilometers northeast of Baghdad and is the capital of Diyala province.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters