At least 18 people died and 45 others were wounded Sunday in a defensive action by the Iraqi army, several bomb blasts and attacks by armed groups staged in cities around the country, a security official told Efe.

In the most violent incident, a group of armed men attacked a military barracks in the town of Al Zaidan, 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of Baghdad.

However, Iraqi forces repelled the attack, using helicopters to pursue the attackers, killing eight of them and wounding another 17.

Also, a motorcycle and a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up simultaneously in a mainly Turkoman neighborhood in the town of Al Tuz, 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Tikrit killing seven and wounding 28.

Meanwhile, a police official and his driver were murdered by unknown gunmen in downtown Tikrit.

In a similar attack, another armed group murdered the imam of the Al Maula mosque, in the Al Risala neighborhood in the western part of Mosul, 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Baghdad.

Iraq is experiencing a resurgence in sectarian violence and terrorist attacks which during 2013 took the lives of 8,868 people, 7,818 of them civilians, according to U.N. figures.

In the face of the increase in violence, the United States announced last Monday that it will accelerate the deployment of unmanned drones to Iraq to be used in monitoring activities, adding that Hellfire missiles to equip the drones will be delivered next spring. EFE