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Multiple deaths as Baghdad cafe suicide bomber strikes

A lone suicide bomber driving a car has killed at least 28 people in an attack on a Baghdad cafe, according to police and medical sources. The attack took place in a Shiite neighbourhood of the Iraqi capital

Police officials said the Sunday night attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who rammed his vehicle into the busy cafe.

Security and hospital officials put the initial death toll at 28, with the number of wounded at 45. The casualty figure was expected to rise.

Both the cafe and a juice shop nearby were said to be regularly frequented by young people in the Amil neighbourhood, which is predominantly Shiite.

Attacks frequent

Violence has worsened in Iraq, particularly after the government launched a crackdown in April on a Sunni protest site in the northern town of Hawijah.

In the past year, Sunni militants - some thought to be linked to al Qaeda - have increasingly targeted members of the Shiite community – who some extremist Sunnis regard as heretics.

At least 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the village of Al-Muwaffiqiyah, in northern Iraq, on Thursday. The attack appeared to be aimed at the mainly Shiite ethnic Shabak minority.

More widely, Sunni communities have complained of mistreatment at the hands of Shiite-led government security forces, as well as discrimination against them under the administration's policies.

Earlier on Sunday, eight suicide bombers were reported to have carried out a series of attacks in the town of Rawha, some 330 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Several policemen were reported to have been killed there, with at least one additional fatality among the family of an officer whose house was targeted.

With the latest violence, more than 480 people have been killed in Iraq so far this month, and almost 5,200 since the beginning of the year, according to figures based on security and medical sources.

rc/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)