More than a dozen people have been killed in a series of car bombs in Iraq's capital Baghdad. A further ten were killed in bombings in the southern city of Basra as tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims escalate.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in the attacks on mainly Shiite districts of Baghdad on Monday, police and hospital officials reported. News agency Reuters quoted police sources as saying eight car bombs had struck the city.
Two car bombs were also detonated in the predominately Shiite city of Basra hours earlier.
Iraq has seen a spike in attacks on both Sunni and Shiite targets in recent weeks. According to a UN estimate more than 700 people were killed in sectarian violence in April, the highest figure in almost five years.
The country's minority Sunni's have been staging regular protests since December over apparent mistreatment at the hands of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government. Violence sharply increased when Iraqi security forces launched a deadly crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in the country's north in April.
The recent surge in attacks has raised fears of a return to the widespread violence of 2006-2007 which brought the country to the brink of civil war.
ccp/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)