At least 13 people were killed and scores were wounded in two separate bombings in Baghdad yesterday, while bombs outside the capital killed six and wounded 31.
One blast in Baghdad occurred when a suicide bomber in a van blew up the vehicle in the parking lot of the state-owned Iraqi daily Al-Sabah, Iraq's best-selling newspaper, an employee said.
The bomb, the second this year directed at the newspaper, killed a guard and another employee, editor in chief Falah al-Meshaal said.
"Two people were killed and 25 others wounded. They all were employees of the newspaper," said Karim al-Rubaiya, head of the newspaper's technical department.
He said that guards at the parking lot fired at the vehicle "which the bomber was attempting to drive fast in the parking lot. As the guards fired at him, he blew up the van."
"Thank God the blast took place early in the day. There were fewer casualties as many employees had not reached office yet," he said, adding that part of the building had collapsed.
The explosion took place at around 9am and also destroyed nearly 20 cars owned by the newspaper's staff.
Meshaal said the newspaper, part of the US-funded Iraqi Media Network, would be published as normal today.
"This is the work of takfiris [radical militants] and terrorists who don't want the truth printed in the new Iraq," he said.
The blast demolished the facade of the newspaper's production department and blew two cars through one wall.
Another bomb blew apart a minibus in central Baghdad yesterday, killing nine people. Police said a bomb had been planted in the minibus that blew up in Saadoun Street, one of Baghdad's busiest thoroughfares.
The blasts occurred despite a major security operation by thousands of US and Iraqi troops to bring peace to the capital. Sectarian and insurgent violence claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Iraqis last month alone.
Police said 20 bodies had been found in various districts of Baghdad on Saturday. Some bore signs of torture and most had been killed by gunshots to the head, a typical feature of the communal bloodshed between the Shiite and Sunni Muslim sects.
Maliki urged tribal leaders who gathered in the capital on Saturday to use their influence to unite Iraqis to end the violence, which has raised fears of all-out civil war.
Tribal leaders attending Saturday's meeting vowed to use their authority to end the bloodletting, but it is unclear how effective they can be among Iraqis increasingly turning to religious leaders for guidance.
"We pledge before Allah and the Iraqi people that we will be believers, devoted and serious in preserving the unity of our country's people and ... ending the spilling of Iraqi blood," said a "pact of honor" read out at the conference.
Crucially, no major Sunni rebel group has signed up to Maliki's national reconciliation plan and the prime minister has offered only a limited amnesty.
Yesterday's violence was not limited to the capital. A bomb planted inside a food market killed at least five people and wounded 15 in Khalis, a town north of Baghdad, police said.
In the tense, ethnically mixed northern city of Kirkuk, a suicide truck bomber killed one person and wounded 16 in an attack on a Kurdish party office. At about the same time, guards at a second office shot dead a car bomber, police said.