The attack, which left policemen and prison guards and employees among the dead, is the latest in a series of bloody assaults across the country in the past weeks, which have killed at least 55 people. - AP (File Photo)

BAGHDAD: A suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle at a prison north of Baghdad on Monday, killing 11 people and wounding at least 15, security officials said.

The attack, which left policemen and prison guards and employees among the dead, is the latest in a series of bloody assaults across the country in the past weeks, which have killed at least 55 people.

The bomber blew up the car at about 8:00 am (0500 GMT) on Monday at the main entrance of the Hout prison in Taji, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Baghdad, officials from the interior and defence ministries said.

The interior ministry official said 11 people were killed and 20 wounded, while the defence ministry official put the toll at 11 dead and 15 wounded.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was part of a prison escape attempt, which are fairly common in Iraq.

Monday's bombing comes amid a surge of violence across Iraq.

On Sunday, bomb and gun attacks killed four people and wounded nine while the previous day 16 people were killed and 20 wounded in bombings and shootings in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the capital.

Three bombs exploded in the southern port city of Basra on Thursday, killing 19 people, including high-ranking army and police officers, and wounding at least 65.

And five people were killed in attacks in the disputed north Iraq city of Kirkuk on November 22.

Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.

General Lloyd Austin, the top US commander in Iraq, has warned that the country's security situation is likely to see “turbulence” as American forces depart and groups including al-Qaeda seek to take advantage of the vacuum.

American troops are set to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

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