At least 68 people have been killed and 195 injured in a series of car bombs across Iraqi cities, police and medics say, pushing the death toll over the past week to more than 200. This is one of the most sustained bouts of sectarian violence the country has seen in years.
The bloodshed is still far shy of the pace, scale and brutality of the dark days of 2006-2007, when armed groups carried out retaliatory attacks against each other in a cycle of violence that left the country awash in blood.
Still, Monday’s attacks, some of which hit markets and crowded bus stops during the morning rush hour, have heightened fears that the country could be turning back down the path toward civil war.
About 150 people have been killed in sectarian violence over the past week and tensions between Shia and minority Sunni Muslims have reached their highest level since U.S. troops pulled out in December 2011.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Nine people were killed in one of two car bomb explosions in Basra, a predominantly Shia city 20 km southeast of Baghdad, police and medics said.
Five other people were killed in a second blast inside a bus terminal in Saad Square, also in Basra, police and medics told Reuters.
In Baghdad, a parked car exploded in a busy market in the mainly Shiite eastern district of Kamaliya, killing seven people, police said.
Also in Baghdad a car bomb exploded near a bus that was carrying Iranian pilgrims to Samarra, it killed 8 people, according to a local official and the Iraqi police.
The wave of violence appear to be revenge attacks for killing of 40 Sunni Muslims by Shia militants on May 17th.