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Reports quoting security officials say two bombs have exploded in the city of Kut in southern Iraq, killing at least 12 people and wounding 31.

The explosions, a roadside bomb and a car bomb, struck a market in the center of city, some 160 kilometers south of Baghdad.

Separately, suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed five Iraqi soldiers at a western Baghdad checkpoint and planted the terror group's black banner before fleeing the scene. It was the second time in a week that Al-Qaeda's flag has appeared at the scene of an attack.

The latest violence came amid an enduring political vacuum nearly five months after Iraq's parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner.

On August 2, President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's intention to remove combat U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the month.

compiled from agency reports