Story highlights

At least 43 people die and scores more are injured in a series of attacks

Longtime government spokesperson steps down amid corruption controversy

Two car bombs detonated outside restaurants kill 16 in the southern city of Hilla

Attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday left dozens dead and more than 130 wounded

Baghdad CNN —  

At least 43 people were killed and more than 120 injured Thursday in Iraq as a series of bomb attacks ripped through the country for a third day running.

Eight people were killed and 21 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the southern town of Twareej as a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims passed by, police officials said.

Sixteen more people were killed and another 75 wounded when two car bombs exploded outside popular restaurants in a commercial area of Hilla, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Both Hilla and Twareej, which is near the southern holy city of Karbala, are predominantly Shiite communities.

A car bomb attack on an Iraqi police patrol in al-Karama neighborhood in northern Mosul killed at least two people and injured four others, police said. Mosul is a predominantly Sunni city in the north of the country.

In central Falluja, another mostly Sunni town about 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber struck a joint police and army checkpoint outside a local bank, local police officials said.

In Taji, a few miles south of Baghdad, two roadside bombs exploded, near an Iraqi army base and on a busy road, killing one person and wounding six more.

Another car bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant on the Basmaia Highway, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of the capital, killing two people and wounding 11 others.

Attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday left at least 38 people dead and more than 130 wounded.

Despite the recent spate of attacks, sectarian violence has dropped dramatically since peaking between 2005 and 2007. And yet the political difficulties continue – particularly in the wake of a recent corruption scandal surrounding a failed Iraqi-Russian arms deal.

On Thursday, longtime Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh stepped down amid the controversy, having accused an adviser of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of launching a smear campaign against him.

“It’s difficult to continue in my position in such a hostile work environment,” he wrote.

Under the $4.2 billion deal forged last month, Russia would have delivered attack helicopters and mobile air-defense systems to Iraq, a sign that the war-torn nation may be starting to look beyond Washington for weapons and support.

But Ali al-Moussawi, an adviser to the prime minister, said al-Maliki ordered an investigation into the deal after he came home from a trip to Russia with concerns over “corruption.”