At least 45 people killed in Iraq bombings
Most attacks carried out in busy markets and commercial areas of Baghdad
Iraqi security forces at the site of a car bomb attack in Basra, 420km southeast of Baghdad, today. Photograph: Reuters
At least 45 people were killed in bomb attacks across Iraq today, most of them in busy markets and commercial areas of the capital Baghdad, police and medics said.
The deadliest assault took place in the predominantly Shia Shaab neighbourhood of northern Baghdad, where two car bombs killed eight people. There were also explosions in the mainly Shia districts of Abu Dsheer, Kamaliya, Tobchi and Shula.
“A blast hit near a crowded market full of people shopping,” said Ali Sadoun, a policeman whose patrol was stationed in Shula. “When police and people gathered to help the wounded, a second bomb went off, tearing through bodies.”
A sustained campaign of attacks since the start of the year has increased fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, Shias and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.
Insurgents including al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate have been recruiting from the country’s Sunni minority, which resents Shia domination since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Intercommunal tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which is being fought increasingly along sectarian lines, drawing in Shia and Sunni fighters from Iraq and elsewhere to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
Outside Baghdad, a bomb blast near a funeral tent in the city of Baquba killed six people.
Further south, a car bomb in Amara province killed four people, and in the city of Basra three blasts hit a hotel frequented by foreigners working in the oil industry, wounding three guards.
Violence is still well below its height in 2006-07, but Sunni insurgents are striking on a daily basis, seeking to destabilise the Shia-led government and provoke further confrontation.
Yesterday, attacks targeting Shia left at least 27 people dead. The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq in June reached 761.
Iraqi military forces are now better equipped and trained, but lack the comprehensive intelligence resources and air cover to track insurgents that they enjoyed before US troops withdrew in December 2011.