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Multiple bombings in central Baghdad

Three locations have been bombed in central Baghdad, killing at least 32 people. The deadliest device detonated opposite the Iraqi foreign ministry building. Violence in Iraq is at its highest since 2008.

Wednesday's bombings, including at least one suicide attack, ripped through confessionally-mixed areas of the Iraqi capital during morning rush-hour. At least 30 other people were left wounded.

There were no initial claims of responsibility.

Security sources said 12 of the dead were killed either by one or two car bombs or a suicide bomber on a motorcycle outside the ministry which lies in Baghdad's supposedly protected Green Zone. It is also home to Iraq's parliament and the US embassy.

In a separate incident, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a restaurant, just one street away from the Green Zone, killing 8 people.

This and other eateries in the area are often used by visitors waiting for security escorts to take them inside the Green Zone.

A third explosion near Khullani Square in central Baghdad (pictured above) left four more people dead, security officials said.

Baghdad was rocked by a

series of bombings two weeks ago.

Pressure on Maliki

The attacks came a day after two rockets were fired into the zone, which also houses the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He has been under pressure from diplomats to encourage his Shiite-led government to reach out to Iraq's once-dominant Sunni Muslims in order to undercut support for militancy.

Maliki has stuck to a hard line ahead of parliamentary elections due in April.

Since January, more than 1,000 people have been killed across Iraq, according to government data.

For months, security forces have struggled to curb bombings while also battling jihadists and other militants in the

province of Anbar.

In a short televised speech broadcast by state television on Wednesday, Maliki said local authorities and tribal leaders in Anbar were on the "threshold" of conclusion.

ipj/lw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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