A new wave of bombings in Baghdad and northern Iraq is reported to have killed at least 60 people. The attacks targeted mainly Shiite areas, many of the blasts being in busy commercial centers.
At least 11 blasts hit busy markets and shopping areas across the Iraqi capital on Monday.
The wave of bombings hit mostly Shiite neighborhoods, including Kamaliya, Ilaam, al-Shurta, Shula and Zaafaraniya.
One of the deadliest attacks reported by authorities killed 12 people in the eastern Habibiya neighborhood, when two bombs exploded. Also in the eastern part of the city, in the Jisr Diyala district, a car bomb killed five.
Among the other attacks was a back-to-back bombing at an open-air market in the predominantly Shiite al-Maalif area, which killed six.
That followed an attack in the busy commercial Sadoun Street in the center of Baghdad (pictured above), in which five people died. The street is a major hub for clinics, drug stores and shops.
Police said eight people were killed in the northern Sabi al-Boor neighborhood, when another car bomb exploded in a market.
Religious fault lines
The blasts are only the latest indication of sectarian violence across the country, with Sunni-Shiite attacks becoming ever-more frequent and bloody.
Amid the killings, there is widespread discontent among the Sunni community, which held the balance of power under former leader Saddam Hussein but which now claims it faces persecution at the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government.
The escalating violence has exacerbated fears of a return to the tension that saw the county slideing to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.
Elsewhere in Iraq, there were separate shootings in the disputed province of Kirkuk in which an anti-Al-Qaeda militiaman and a private generator operator were killed. Meanwhile, a roadside bomb in the principal northern city of Mosul claimed the life of a police colonel.
The autonomous Kurdish region aims to incorporate Kirkuk into its territory, an aspiration to which the government in Baghdad has strong objections.
rc/ipj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)