Bomb attacks have killed scores of people in Iraq, during one of the deadliest days of violence in months. The bloodshed comes as tensions between the Sunni minority and Shiite-led government show no signs of abating.
The day began with two car bombs in the southern port city of Basra that killed 14 and wounded 40.
However, the worst of the violence was in Baghdad, where ten car bombs exploded in Shiite neighborhoods, killing at least 29 people and wounding about 100.
One car bomb alone was reported by the AP news agency to have killed 14 people when it blew up in a busy market in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Shaab.
In addition, in the town of Balad, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims and killed 13 people.
In the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, about 120 kilometres west of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on two police patrols, killing eight policemen. Bodies of 14 people who were reported kidnapped in the region were also found on Monday.
Iraq has seen a rise in the number of retaliatory attacks between Sunni and Shiite groups, prompting fear of a return to the level of bloodshed that the country faced in 2006 and 2007.
Sunni demonstrators have been protesting since December, calling for the release of Sunni detainees and the repeal of laws introduced by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that they believe are discriminatory.
The violence has overshadowed the run-up to and completion of elections that took place on Saturday. At least 14 candidates were reported to have been murdered in the weeks leading up to the poll.
rc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)