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Iraq hit by nationwide bombing and shooting spree

A wave of violence continues to grip Iraq during the month of Ramadan, with a string of bombings and shootings hitting cities across the country. More than 60 people have been killed and hundreds injured.

Around a dozen bombing and shooting attacks killed more than 60 people in Iraq on Thursday, part of a wave of violence that has gripped the country since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks, which hit 15 cities and towns nationwide, leaving around 260 people wounded. But al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, had announced in July that it would launch an offensive during Ramadan.

The AFP news agency has recorded 198 deaths from violence so far in August. July was the deadliest month in Iraq since 2010, with 325 people killed in attacks.

In the worst blast at least 25 people were killed late on Thursday when a car bomb exploded in Zafaraniyya district in southern Baghdad. A further 11 people were killed and more than 40 people wounded when a car bomb exploded in the predominately Shiite north Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. Earlier another car bomb killed six people and wounded 28 in the city's Husseiniya district.

The northern city of Mosul, meanwhile, was struck by two car bombs that killed two civilians. Two more people were shot dead in their car by unknown gunmen.

Kirkuk hit hard

The oil-rich city of Kirkuk was particularly hard hit. Four car bombs were detonated in the city, two of them inside an oil complex. A suicide bomber also hit an anti-terrorism headquarters in the city.

"A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives blew himself up in front of the anti-terrorism command headquarters in the area of Daquq in southern Kirkuk," an official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the German news agency dpa.

Kirkuk lies on an ethnic fault line between the Kurdish-controlled north and the mostly Arab remainder of Iraq. Kurdish officials say the city belongs to the autonomous region of Kurdistan, a claim the central government in Baghdad disputes.

The attacks in Kirkuk occurred on the anniversary of the founding of Iraq's main Kurdish party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Security analysts say that the civil war in Syria is facilitating the renewed violence in Iraq, with Islamist militants reportedly moving fighters and weapons across the two countries' border.

slk, ccp/lw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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