BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq was engulfed in a wave of violence on Thursday, with suicide attackers and bombings killing 26 people including three US soldiers, a day after huge blast in a Baghdad Shia area left 40 dead. The spike in attacks comes as the US military prepares to decamp from the nations cities and towns by June 30 and has sparked fears of a return to the sectarian violence that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war three years ago. The main target of Thursdays attacks was Baghdad, where a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowded market in the southern Dora district, killing at least 12 people and wounding 25, security officials said. The bomber targeted a US foot patrol that was passing through a popular Assyrian Christian market in the confessionally mixed area, officials from the interior and defence ministry told AFP. Three American soldiers were killed in a blast that US army major Dave Shoupe said was caused by an improvised explosive device. Shoupe confirmed that US soldiers had also been injured, but could not provide a figure, and also said it was unclear whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber. The market attack came soon after a bomb exploded in a rubbish bin inside a Baghdad police station, killing three policemen and injuring 20, among then 12 officers and eight civilians, officials told AFP. The day began on a bloody note when a suicide bomber killed eight members of an anti-Qaeda militia in the tense northern city and oil hub of Kirkuk as they were lining up to receive their salaries, police said. Iraqi VP Tarek al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, called for national unity in the wake of the violence. The evil and criminal powers are back once again to continue their criminal actions against our patient people, he said in a statement. A suicide bomber dressed in a Sahwa uniform blew himself up at a Sahwa gathering near Kirkuks technical college. They were waiting to receive their salaries, he said. Thursdays attacks follow a huge car bombing in a Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad late Wednesday that killed at least 40 people and injured 83. Diners and shoppers were enjoying a night out at the Al-Sadrain interchange that is popular for its eateries and shops when the powerful bomb went off. The attack in Shula, a poor Shia area in northwestern Baghdad, was the bloodiest since April 29 when more than 50 people were killed in a spate of synchronised bombings also in mostly Shia districts of the capital No one has claimed responsibility for the latest bombings but Al-Qaeda