BAGHDAD: Thirteen car bombs exploded around Iraq on Sunday, including eight in Baghdad that detonated within a three-hour window, as insurgents continued their attacks in the new year. The bombs injured at least 20 people but killed no one, police said.The teenage son of the Palestinian cultural attache to Iraq was shot dead hours before the onset of the New Year, the Palestinian Embassy said on Sunday. Meanwhile, a Sudanese official said on Sunday that six kidnapped employees had been released two days after Sudan announced that it would close its embassy in Baghdad, meeting the kidnappers’ demands. A Cypriot man kidnapped four months ago was also released after his family paid a ransom, a relative said.In Baghdad, the first car bomb exploded at about 8:15am as Iraqi Army soldiers were patrolling a northern neighbourhood, wounding two soldiers, police Lt Bilal Ali Majid said. Seven more car bombs exploded over the next two-and-a-half-hours, wounding nine people, police said. One suicide attacker died. Police later detonated a ninth car bomb in a controlled explosion.Just north of Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber detonated his car near an American patrol, injuring six civilians, police First Lt Ali Jasmin said. Iraqi police had no information on American casualties and US officials had no immediate information. Two car bombs also exploded in Kirkuk, 290 kilometres north of Baghdad, including one that targeted an American convoy, police Brig Sarhat Qadir said. US officials had no immediate information on possible casualties. The second bomb targeted a police convoy, wounding three civilians, Qadir said.In Muqdadiyah, about 90 kilometres north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeting an American patrol exploded, and the Diyalaa Police said that there may have been Americans casualties.In other violence on Sunday, about a dozen gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in Mosul, killing one bystander and injuring three policemen, police Brig Saed Ahmed said.US Brig Gen Donald Alston on Sunday said that officials had expected attacks to increase after the security measures put in place for the December 15 parliamentary elections were relaxed. “We’re seeing that increase right now,” he said. “This is perceived, inappropriately I would say, by the enemy as a time of vulnerability as the government transitions … to a permanent government.”An oil pipeline was on fire after a bomb exploded near a refinery in southern Baghdad on Sunday, police said.It was the second sabotage attack on the Doura refinery in Baghdad in the past few days.It comes as Iraq struggles with a fuel crisis caused largely by the closure of a major refinery in the north, which has triggered panic buying and long queues at petrol stationsThe Palestinian envoy’s son, 17-year-old Azam Ibrahim Muhsin, was killed on Saturday night as he sat in a car listening to music in the west of the city. “The embassy demands an investigation into this killing,” acting Palestinian ambassador Dalil al-Qusus said.Al Qaeda militants in Iraq have often targeted staff from embassies of Muslim countries in an effort to stop them from recognising Iraq’s US-backed government.The six kidnapped employees of Sudan’s embassy were released on Saturday, a Sudanese official said. “We talked to the six of them by phone and they told us that they are now at the house of one of their friends,” said the Sudanese Embassy’s Charge D’affairs Mohamed Ahmed Khalil.The Sudanese Foreign Ministry reported on December 24 that six of its embassy employees had been kidnapped – including the mission’s second secretary.Al Qaeda in Iraq had set a Saturday deadline for Sudan to “announce clearly that it is cutting its relations” with the Iraqi government, or it would kill the hostages. Sudan said on Friday that it would close its embassy in Baghdad in an effort to win their release.The terror group has kidnapped and killed a string of Arab diplomats and embassy employees in a campaign to scare Arab governments from setting up full diplomatic missions in Iraq.In July, Al Qaeda abducted the top Egyptian envoy in Baghdad, Ihab al-Sherif, and two Algerian diplomats. It later announced that they had been killed. The group also snatched two Moroccan Embassy employees in June and said that it had sentenced them to death, though it never stated whether it carried out the sentences.Garabet Jekerjian, 41, who holds both Cypriot and Lebanese citizenship, was kidnapped by gunmen in Baghdad in August. His brother, Avo Jekerjian, said that he was released in Baghdad on Saturday after a $200,000 ransom was paid to the kidnappers.Jekerjian had worked for Geto Trading Limited, a Cyprus-based company supplying food and alcoholic drinks to US forces. His brother said that the company contributed to the ransom, but would not say how much.‘American Idol 3’ star Diana DeGarmo and other entertainers treated hundreds of US forces in Baghdad to a New Year’s Eve show on Saturday. The performers were traveling with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Peter Pace as part of a six-nation holiday tour to thank the troops.