Middle East

Iraq violence: Bombs cause mayhem across Iraq

Burnt vehicles at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Nasiriya.
Image caption The spike in violence left 800 people dead last month alone, says the UN

A fresh wave of bombs has killed more than 40 people across Iraq - mostly targeting Shia areas - officials say.

The deadliest was in the city of Hilla, south of the capital Baghdad, where two car bombs at a market killed at least 15 civilians.

Other bombs hit Baghdad itself as well as Basra, Nasiriya and Karbala in the south of the country.

Sectarian violence has surged across Iraq in recent months, reaching its highest level since 2008.

More than 5,000 people have been killed so far this year in Iraq, 800 of them in August alone, according to the United Nations.

Son injured

In Hilla, about 95km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, two parked car bombs exploded simultaneously near a busy market, police said.

Abu Ahmed, who runs a grocery store, told Reuters news agency that he had stepped out of his shop when the two explosions occurred.

"I ran to check on my son who was covering for me in my shop and found him covered with blood among many other bodies. There is no trace left of my shop," he said.

Some of the other attacks included:

  • In Iskandariya, some 50km (30 miles) south of the capital, a car bomb hit a parking lot, killing four civilians and wounding nine, police said
  • Another bomb went off in an industrial area of Karbala, killing at least four
  • Another nine died in and around Kut, another Shia-dominated city
  • Eight people were killed in the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriya
  • In Baghdad three security personnel were killed when a car bomb exploded near the convoy of the head of provincial council official in the Sunni-dominated Azamiya district. Two more civilians were killed when a bomb hit a police patrol in Baghdad's western suburbs.

On Saturday, more than 20 people died when a suicide bomber targeted the funeral of a member of the Shabak people near Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province. The Shabak - about 50,000 people who largely follow a faith considered an offshoot of Shia Islam - are frequently targeted in attacks by Sunni militants.

And on Friday, at least 30 people died in a bomb attack on a Sunni mosque in the central city of Baquba.

In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have reportedly arrested hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members in and around Baghdad as part of a campaign the Shia-led government is calling "Revenge for the martyrs".

But the operations, which have taken place mostly in Sunni districts, have angered the Sunni community and failed to halt the violence.

The country has also seen a spillover of violence from the conflict in Syria, which has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones.