A dozen car bombs hit the Iraqi capital Baghdad during morning rush hour on Monday, killing at least 36 people, officials said.
The blasts, which wounded scores more, are part of a surge of attacks that is reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 US-led invasion. Suicide attacks, car bombs and other violence have killed more than 3,000 people since April, including more than 500 since the start of July, according to Associated Press.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida’s Iraqi arm. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, frequently uses car bombs, suicide bombers and co-ordinated blasts in an effort to break Iraqis’ confidence in the Shia-led government.
Six police officers said 12 car bombs had hit markets and car parks in predominantly Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad within one hour. They said the deadliest was in the eastern Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, where two explosions killed nine people and wounded 33 others.
Two other car bombs went off in the northern Hurriyah neighbourhood, killing six bystanders and wounding 23 others. In the busy northern Kazimiyah neighbourhood, another car bomb killed four people and wounded 12.
In the south-western neighbourhood of Bayaa, three people were killed and 15 wounded in another car bomb explosion. In western Baghdad in Shurta, two other people were killed and 14 wounded.
In the southern Abu Disheer area, four people were killed and 17 wounded. Another car bomb struck in the north-western Tobchi district, killing three and wounding 10 others.
Five more people were killed and 44 others wounded in Risala, the northern Shaab neighbourhood and in the town of Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Seven health officials confirmed the casualty figures and said scores more had been wounded. The violence surged after an April crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija that killed 44 people and a member of the security forces, according to UN estimates.