Three Iraqi towns have been targeted by deadly bomb blasts, including one in the relatively quiet Basra region, according to officials. The government is struggling to provide security as the fight against IS continues.
At least 56 people were killed in three separate car bombings on Monday, targeting busy areas in the towns of al-Khales and al-Zubair, as well as in a Baghdad suburb of Husseiniya.
The deadliest attack tore through a commercial street in al-Khales in Iraq's eastern Diyala province, claiming at least 32 lives.
"The driver begged police to be allowed to park his vehicle in order to buy medication from a nearby pharmacy and five minutes later it [the bomb] went off and caused huge destruction," police captain Mohammed al-Tamimi told Reuters.
The extremist "Islamic State" group (IS) took over parts of Diyala last year, before Iraqi forces pushed out their fighters in January. The Islamic militants have since reverted to their old tactics of suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks in the province.
Death toll mounting
On the same day, a car bomb exploded at market in al-Zubair near Basra, in the predominantly Shiite south which is usually hard to penetrate for the Sunni militants.
"At least 10 people were killed. We also have 24 wounded," said Jabbar al-Saadi of the Basra provincial council's security committee, speaking with AFP.
Another blast targeted Husseiniya on the northern outskirts of Baghdad killing 14 people, according to police.
Although no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, the blast bore the hallmark of IS, which routinely targets Shiite Muslims.
According to figures released by the UN last week, 717 Iraqis were killed and 1,216 wounded in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in September. The Baghdad governorate alone accounted for 257 of the casualties.
The UN added that their data only takes into account casualties that can be verified, and that real figures are likely much higher.
dj/cmk (AFP, Reuters, AP)