A wave of a dozen car bombings hit in and around the Iraqi capital during morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, killing at least 36 people in the latest co-ordinated attack by insurgents determined to undermine the government.
The blasts, which wounded scores more, are part of a months-longsurgeof attacks that it is reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed more than 3,000 people since April, including more than 500 since the start of July, according to an Associated Press count.
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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda'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 a total of 12 parked car bombs hit markets and parking lots in predominantly Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad within one hour. They say the deadliest was in the eastern Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, where two separate explosions killed nine civilians and wounded 33 others.
Two other separate car bombs went off in the northern Hurriyah neighbourhood, killing six bystanders and wounding 23 others. In the busy northern Kazimiyah neighbourhood, another parked car bomb killed four civilians and wounded 12.
In the southwestern neighborhood of Bayaa, three civilians were killed and 15 wounded in another car bomb explosion. In western Baghdad in the neighbourhood of Shurta, two other people were killed and 14 wounded.
In the southern Abu Disheer area, four civilians were killed and 17 wounded. Another car bomb struck in the northwestern Tobchi district, killing three and wounding ten others.
Five more people were killed and 44 others wounded in the southwestern Risala neighbourhood, the northern Shaab neighbourhood and in the town of Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad.
Seven health officials confirmed the casualty figures and said scores more were wounded. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
The violence surged after an April crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija that killed 44 civilians and a member of the security forces, according to United Nations estimates. The bloodshed is linked to rising sectarian divisions between Iraq's Sunni and Shia as well as friction between Arabs and Kurds, dampening hopes for a return to normalcy nearly two years after U.S. forces withdrew from the country.
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