Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens killed in Iraq violence

At least 50 die in clashes between Sunni fighters and Iraqi armed forces

At least 50 members of the Iraqi armed forces and seven Sunni gunmen were killed in clashes in Ramadi on Friday. Meanwhile, two deadly car bombs hit Baghdad.

The clashes erupted on Thursday and continued until the early hours of Friday morning near a government complex in Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province

Violence escalated in the Sunni-dominated province after anti-government fighters seized the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in January.

Since then, security forces have managed to wrest back control of most of Ramadi, but a stalemate has persisted in Fallujah.

The bloodshed in Iraq has killed more than 2,500 people this year and sparked fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out sectarian fighting of 2006–07. At least 290 people have been killed across the country this month alone, according to Agence France-Presse figures based on security and medical sources.

Unrest has been driven principally by complaints among the Sunni Arab minority of mistreatment by the Shia-led government and security forces, and by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, two car bombs exploded on Thursday, killing at least 13 people and injuring scores.

The first car bomb detonated near a gas station in the Ameen area in the capital's east, killing at least seven people and wounding 35, officials said. The other car bomb exploded in an area of shops in northern Baghdad's Shia-majority Sadr City district, killing at least six people and wounding 18.

The latest wave of violence comes in the run-up to a parliamentary vote scheduled at the end of the month.

The elections, the first since U.S. troops pulled out of the country in 2011, will be a major test for Iraqi security forces, who were able to keep violence to a minimum during last year's provincial elections. They have subsequently failed to bring a yearlong surge in unrest under control.

In other developments, gunmen attacked Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak's convoy on Friday in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad, killing a guard and wounding at least five, officials said.

"Mr. Mutlak is safe and was not hurt," an assistant to the deputy premier, who was traveling in the convoy, told AFP.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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