Iraqi security officials say two bombs exploded Tuesday in the mainly Shi'ite city of Kut in southern Iraq, killing at least 12 people and wounding about 55 others.

The officials say a roadside bomb and then a car bomb were detonated in a busy commercial area near a gold market in the town center.  Many of the casualties from the blasts were women and children.

Estimates of the number of people killed vary widely.  Some news reports  citing police and health officials -- put the death toll as high as 22.  Such attacks have been uncommon in Kut, a normally quiet city about 160 kilometers south of Baghdad.

While violence in Iraq has fallen over the last three years, bombings are still a daily occurrence.  Insurgents frequently target the Iraqi army and police.

Earlier Tuesday, security officials said gunmen linked to al-Qaida overran a military checkpoint in Baghdad, killing five policemen.

Police say the insurgents used weapons fitted with silencers to attack the checkpoint in the mainly Sunni Mansour district just after dawn.  They raised the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group.

That same flag was left behind by suspected al-Qaida militants after they attacked several security checkpoints in Baghdad's Sunni Azamiyah district last week.

The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for that attack in a statement posted Tuesday on a militant website.

Iraqi authorities say almost 400 civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks in July, nearly doubling the toll of the previous month.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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