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Updated: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 08:42:53 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Baghdad rocked by wave of bombings

Baghdad rocked by wave of bombings

A co-ordinated wave of bombings that mainly struck Shia neighbourhoods in and around Baghdad has killed at least 51 people, Iraqi officials say.

The attacks are the latest in a relentless wave of killing that has left thousands dead since April, marking the country's worst spate of bloodshed since 2008.

Police say insurgents set off bombs in at least 10 different neighbourhoods in the capital early Wednesday. Another 150 were wounded. Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

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Insurgents deployed explosives-laden cars, bombs and suicide bombers, targeting parking lots, outdoor markets and restaurants in predominantly Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attacks bore the hallmarks of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. It frequently targets Shias, whom it considers heretics, and employs co-ordinated bombings in an attempt to incite sectarian strife.

The northern neighbourhood of Kazimiyah, home to a prominent, gold-domed Shia shrine, was the worst hit. Two bombs went off in a parking lot in the neighbourhood, followed by a suicide car bomber who struck onlookers who had gathered at the scene. Police said a total of 10 people were killed and 27 wounded.

Other areas that were hit included the sprawling slum of Sadr City and neighbouring Jamila, and the neighbourhoods of Shaab, Shula, and Mahmoudiyah.

The violence follows months of protests by Iraq's Sunni minority against the Shia-led government that began late last year. Attacks have been on the rise since a deadly security crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest in April, while the increasingly sectarian nature of the civil war in neighbouring Syria is inflaming Iraq's own long-festering differences between Sunnis and Shias.

In response, clerics and other influential Shia and Sunni leaders have called for restraint, and security forces have tried to ratchet up counterinsurgency operations.

More than 480 people have been killed so far in August, according to an Associated Press count.

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