Wardak (AFP) - A suicide truck bomber triggered a massive blast in a Kurdish village in northern Iraq as residents slept early on Thursday, flattening homes and killing at least 22 people, officials said. The attack just after midnight in Wardak, southeast of the restive city of Mosul, brought down a dozen houses built from clay and stone, damaged 60 others and left a massive crater, said an AFP reporter at the scene. The truck tried to enter the village from the rear, where there is a river, and where locals had been building a sand barrier to protect the area from attacks, said Jalal Dosky, a security guard in Wardak. One of the guards tried to stop the truck by shooting at it but he was killed in the explosion. Blankets and mattresses where people had been sleeping lay scattered on the ground amid mud and concrete blocks and the remains of the houses latticed straw roofs, which caved in. A defence ministry official in Baghdad gave a toll of 22 dead and 45 hurt. Police Captain Mohammed Jalal confirmed it was a suicide attack and that a second such blast was foiled when the driver was killed by Iraqi security forces before he could detonate explosives hidden in his truck. Some of the wounded were evacuated to a hospital in Hamdia, another town in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, while others were taken to Arbil, home city of the Kurdish regional government. Attacks in the region have become increasingly common, almost daily, in recent weeks, further straining tensions between Iraqs majority Arab and minority Kurd communities. US and Iraqi officials have said hostility between Arabs and Kurds in the north is a major threat to the countrys long-term security. The autonomous region of Kurdistan wants to expand its territory to include the disputed oil-rich hub of Kirkuk as well as villages in Nineveh, such as Wardak, a change the Baghdad government resolutely opposes. In August, General Ray Odierno, the top US military officer in Iraq, said discussions were under way for a possible accord with the central government and the Kurdish region to work alongside their respective armies in the disputed zones, which also include parts of Diyala province. Elsewhere on Thursday, four people were killed and 29 wounded when a bomb exploded in a market south of Baghdad, the defence ministry official said. The attack occurred in Mahmudiyah, a town within a confessionally mixed region known as the Triangle of Death because of its frequent insurgent attacks during the worst of Iraqs insurgency in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion. The latest violence follows a spate of roadside bomb attacks across Iraq on Tuesday that killed four American soldiers and 10 Iraqi police, the bloodiest day that the US military had experienced in five months. Monday also saw a series of blasts that left 22 people dead, including eight in a suicide car bombing at a security checkpoint in the former Al-Qaeda stronghold of Ramadi in western Iraq. The latest casualties come after the number of violent deaths in Iraq hit a 13-month high in August, raising fresh concerns about stability after the government admitted that security is worsening. Statistics compiled by the defence, interior and health ministries showed that 456 people 393 civilians, 48 police and 15 Iraqi soldiers were killed. That was the highest monthly toll since July 2008, when 465 died. In stark contrast, August saw seven American soldiers killed, the lowest monthly toll since the invasion six-and-a-half years ago. The high number of Iraqis killed last month was partly explained by twin truck bomb attacks on the finance and foreign ministries in Baghdad that left at least 95 people dead and 600 others wounded on August 19.