UK & World News
Blasts In Iraq As UN Warns Of Town 'Massacre'
The United Nations has warned of a "possible massacre" in the Iraqi town of Amerli, which has been besieged by Islamic State (IS) militants.
The UN's Special Envoy to the country said immediate action was needed to protect 17,000 people in Amerli.
Nickolay Mladenov said reports "confirm that people are surviving in desperate conditions" and there is "unspeakable suffering".
Shia Turkmen residents of the town, in the Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, have been cut off from food and water supplies by IS for months.
Iraq's prime minister designate Haidar al Abadi has promised aid for them.
Meanwhile, the UK Government has appointed Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall as security envoy to the Kurdistan region of Iraq to help with efforts to defeat IS, also known as ISIL.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "General Mayall will support Kurdish and wider Iraqi efforts to counter ISIL and work with Iraq's leaders as they establish a unity government."
The UK is also planning to supply goods to Iraqi forces.
"Work is underway to supply non-lethal equipment to Kurdish forces in the coming days, including night vision equipment and body armour," the Downing Street spokesperson said.
There has been fighting around towns including Jalula and Sa'dya, which have been controlled by the well-armed Sunni extremists for weeks.
At least 30 people were killed in explosions in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk, where three blasts went off in a crowded commercial area.
In the capital, a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into the gate of the intelligence headquarters in the Karrada district - killing civilians and security personnel.
In Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, local media said a car bomb had exploded on Saturday.
Ramsay, reporting from north of Baghdad, said a mosque attack on Friday in which more than 60 Sunni Muslims were killed, is "likely to have been the catalyst" for the latest spike in violence.
Officials say a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday in the Imam Wais mosque in Diyala province, north of the capital, with Shia militiamen picking off fleeing worshippers with machine guns.
The attack is seen as a blow to government efforts to secure backing from Sunni groups in its battle against IS extremists.
Having poured in from Syria across a desert border that it does not recognise, the Islamist movement has declared its own caliphate