BAGHDAD — Insurgents bent on destabilizing Iraq killed at least 46 people in numerous attacks scattered around the country on Sunday, striking targets as varied as a coffee shop, a wedding party convoy, and a carload of off-duty soldiers.
The attacks are part of a months-long wave of killing that is the country's worst spate of bloodshed since 2008. The violence is calling into question the security forces' ability to protect the country and raising fears that Iraq's sectarian and ethnic divisions are pushing it back toward the brink of civil war.
One of the day's boldest attacks happened near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where militants set up a fake security checkpoint, captured five soldiers, and shot them to death, a police officer said. The soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and returning to base in a taxi.
Inside Mosul, other gunmen in a speeding car shot and killed a grocer, the police officer said, though the motive was not immediately clear. The grocer was a member of the Shabak ethnic group, which has its own distinct language and religious beliefs.
Mosul, a former insurgent stronghold, is about 220 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Another police officer said a car bomb exploded as a judge drove past in the northern town of Balad, killing three nurses and a man who had been walking nearby. Thirteen other people were wounded, including the judge, his brother, and a driver, he added.
In a separate development Sunday, the Iraqi government denied charges by an Iranian dissident group that Iraqi authorities have cut off water and electricity to a contested northern camp used by its members.
The conflicting accounts over services are the latest twist in a long-running dispute between the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq dissident group and the Iraqi government over Camp Ashraf, a Saddam Hussein-era community in northeast Iraq that the exiles never wanted to leave.
The dissident group, known by the acronym MEK, alleges that Iraqi authorities shut off power and water supplies to Camp Ashraf on Aug. 10. It claims that Iraqi forces are hauling off parts of the camp's water system, and says some of the roughly 100 residents are becoming dehydrated.
Georges Bakoos, who oversees the issue for the Iraqi government, dismissed the dissident group's allegations as ''propaganda.''
Sectarian violence has been on the rise in Iraq since a deadly security crackdown in April on a Sunni protest camp. More than 3,000 people have been killed in violence during the past few months, raising fears the country could see an even deadlier, sectarian round of bloodshed similar to what brought the country to the edge of civil war in 2006 and 2007.
Many of Sunday's victims were civilians going about their normal business despite the rising risks.
In the town of Madain, about 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed four and wounded 12, another police officer said. Authorities reported that another bomb there struck a group of young people playing soccer, killing four and wounding 13.
Multiple blasts hit the city of Baqouba, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Police said one bomb exploded near a police officer's house, killing his 8-year old son and wounding 11 other people, police said.