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Car bombings kill dozens of people in and around Baghdad

Car bombs have killed almost 50 people in mostly Shiite Muslim areas of Baghdad. These are just the latest in a series of sectarian attacks.

At least 12 separate explosions on Monday left at least 47 people dead and more than 100 others wounded. Of the areas hit, six were mainly Shiite, two mixed and another Sunni-majority. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attacks.

The deadliest attacks hit Kadhimiyah, a mainly Shiite area of north Baghdad, where two car bombs killed at least nine people and wounded another 19. In Sadr City, a car blew up near where men had gathered to seek work, killing seven people, including two soldiers.

In the Jadida district of the capital, a bomb exploded in a car park, burning vehicles, destroying a fence and shattering the windows of nearby shops and a women's clinic, the news agency AFP reported. Security forces deployed to the area, closing off streets and using sniffer dogs to search for more bombs.

'New internal displacement'

The sectarian bloodshed has killed tens of thousands in the decade since US-led forces invaded Iraq, leading to the ouster of former President Saddam Hussein. The violence reached a peak in 2006 and 2007 and until this year, it appeared to have diminished. Discontent has grown among Iraq's minority Sunnis toward what they consider to be second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 people attending a funeral inside a mosque in the mostly Shiite city of Hille, south of Baghdad. Violence blamed mostly on Sunni militants who view Shiites as heretics has killed more than 6,000 people this year, according to the monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

So far Shiite militias, most of which disarmed in recent years and joined the reconstituted security forces or entered the political process, have largely held their fire, but several attacks in recent weeks suggest that some have retaliated. Last Friday, for example, bombs exploded near two Sunni mosques in Baghdad, killing six people as worshippers were leaving after prayers.

The United Nations' refugee agency has expressed increasing concern about the situation, pointing out that "recent waves of sectarian violence threaten to spark new internal displacement of Iraqis fleeing bombings and other attacks." According to the agency, the violence has forced more than 1 million people from their homes since 2006.

The latest bloodshed brings the September death toll in Iraq to more than 840 killed, according to a tally compiled by AFP and based on information from security and medical sources.

mkg/pfd (Reuters, AFP)