As Iraq prepares to host its first meeting of the 22-member Arab League in over 20 years, a series of car bombs has killed dozens and threatened stability ahead of the summit.
A series of explosions in Iraq on Tuesday killed at least 38 people, according to police and hospital sources.
The worst of the attacks were in the southern city of Karbala. Two car bombs that went off there resulted in 13 dead, with an additional 48 people wounded.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded near a police station, killing nine and injuring over 40. Police officers were among those killed.
Another blast in the town of Hillah, south of Baghdad, killed two people and injured several more. The capital itself was also hit by an attack that killed four. An additional southern town, Mahmoudiya, was also hit by a blast that killed two.
Further fatal blasts were reported in up to seven additional cities around the country.
Unsettling Arab League meeting
Iraqis are preparing to host a meeting of the Arab League in Baghdad next week on Tuesday. Baghdad has made serious investments in security and infrastructure to make sure the three-day meeting goes off without a hitch.
"It seems that the terrorists want to abort the upcoming Arab Summit in Baghdad," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "The message is directed to the Arab leaders that Iraq is not safe enough to be visited."
The Arab League meeting is the first to be held in the Iraqi capital since the country's former dictator Saddam Hussein led an invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
mz/ncy (Reuters, AFP, dpa)