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BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Bombs planted on two minibuses killed at least 11 people and wounded 12 near the usually quiet southern town of Kut on August 24, officials said.

Iraq has been reeling from a series of huge bombings, mainly in and around the capital Baghdad, the troubled northern city of Mosul and western Anbar Province, since U.S. troops pulled out of city centres in June.

Two police sources in Baghdad earlier said 20 people had been killed in Kut, and 10 wounded, but the head of the local council of Wasit Province put the toll at 11 killed and 12 wounded. A Wasit police source also said 11 had died.

"This is a criminal and treacherous act. This is the first time this has happened in Wasit, which is usually very quiet. This is an effort to bring violence to the province and create terror," said Mahmoud Abdulla, head of the provincial council.

The buses were on their way to Kut, a mainly Shi'ite Muslim area 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Baghdad, from Baghdad.

The bloodiest day this year occurred last week when two massive truck bombs devastated the Foreign and Finance ministries in Baghdad, killing at least 95 people.

Those blasts triggered strong public criticism of the domestic security forces and raised questions about whether they can ensure Iraq is not dragged back into the sectarian bloodshed unleashed by the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The violence comes ahead of a national election next January that the government says is likely to be a catalyst for more attacks. Much of it has been blamed on feuds between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunnis and ethnic Kurds. Mainly Shi'ite southern Iraq has been relatively quiet.

The attacks in Kut came on the same day that traditional political allies of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said they had formed an alliance to compete in January's general election without Maliki's Dawa party.