Gunmen killed 22 passengers on a bus coming from Syria late Monday in a desert region of Iraq's western province of Anbar, police general Haider Rzayj told AFP.
"Some armed men stopped the bus coming from Syria Monday around 9:30 pm (1830 GMT), they made the 22 passengers get off the bus and killed them with automatic weapons," he said.
"All the victims are men and their bloodied bodies were stretched out on the ground," he added.
The incident took place about 300 kilometres (185 miles) west of Baghdad, in a sector under the control of the Iraqi army.
|President of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government Braham Salih (R) sits next to Jordan's Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit during a joint Kurdish-Jordanian Economic Forum held in the nothern Iraqi city of Arbil on September 11, 2011|
Since the US-led invasion in 2003, the mainly Sunni province of Anbar has been a stronghold of Al-Qaeda, whose members have killed numerous Iraqis and foreigners travelling the roads to Jordan and Syria.
While tribal militias have cracked down on insurgents since 2007, they have not completely eliminated them.
Earlier Monday, in a separate incident, gunmen shot dead a Sunni imam hostile to Al-Qaeda in the troubled city of Baquba, 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, a local security official said.
The gunmen, using weapons fitted with silencers, killed 63-year-old Ahmed Mahmud al-Jabalawi, the imam of the Al-Shuhada mosque, on Monday morning," said the official.
The imam, who was known for his outspoken criticism of Al-Qaeda, was killed on his way to the mosque for morning prayers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the main northern city of Mosul, a car bomb wounded six people, including five policemen, a police officer said.
And in another attack, a vehicle packed with explosives wounded two people in Iskandariyah just south of Baghdad, another police officer said. Both sources declined to be identified.
Violence is down across Iraq from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 239 people were killed in violence in the country in August, according to official figures.
A total of 1,860 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the year, according to a tally kept by AFP based on government figures.