A body is taken from the scene of a bomb attack in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. A series of blasts hit a Shiite holy city in Iraq on Sunday, killing and wounding scores of people, police and hospital officials said. (Ahmed Alhussaini/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Four coordinated explosions killed 15 people and injured at least 113 on Sunday morning in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 55 miles southwest of the Iraqi capital.

The first charge detonated at 9:30 a.m. in front of a government building that issues IDs and badges, according to a Karbala police spokesman. Three other explosions followed as police and emergency workers gathered.

The explosions sheared off the facades of several buildings. The dead include five Iraqi policemen. Four children and many Iraqi security officers were wounded.

Karbala — home to one of Shiite Islam’s most significant shrines and the tomb of one of the prophet Muhammad’s grandsons — has been a consistent target for Sunni insurgents looking to make headlines, incite sectarian violence and kill religious pilgrims from outside the province.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber killed four pilgrims and wounded 17 as they made their way into Karbala. On Aug.15, a booby-trapped car exploded near police headquarters in the Hindiya district, 15 miles east of Karbala, killing three and injuring 42. On July 15, as thousands of visitors descended on Karbala to mark the birthday of a prominent Shiite imam, more than 100 people were killed or injured by three bombs positioned in different areas of the city.

Sunday’s attacks were executed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, which seeks to prove that Iraqi security forces cannot maintain order in advance of the Dec. 31 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal, said Ganim al-Karbalie, spokesman for the Karbala provincial council.

While overall violence has decreased and no U.S. service member has been killed in hostile action in Iraq since July, small-scale insurgent attacks occur almost daily in the form of sticky bombs and assassinations. The casualties are usually Iraqi civilians, security forces or government officials.

Within the past week, an official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was shot and killed in western Baghdad by gunmen wielding pistols with silencers, Iraqi police partly foiled an insurgent assault on a provincial compound in Ramadi, and a booby-trapped car exploded near a Shiite mosque in Babil province, killing five and injuring 19 policemen and civilians.

Alwan is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Uthman al-Mokhtar in Anbar province contributed to this report.