Middle East

Iraq: 'Many killed' in series of bombings

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Media captionThe blasts in Karbala came as pilgrims gathered for a religious festival

At least 40 people have been killed and many wounded in bomb attacks in cities across Iraq.

A truck bombing at a market in the Iraqi city of Diwaniya killed at least 25 people.

In the central city of Karbala, four people were killed when two car bombs targeting Shia pilgrims exploded.

There has been a spike in attacks across Iraq in recent weeks. June was the bloodiest month in the country since US troops withdrew in December.

The Diwaniya blasts took place in a market near a Shia mosque where pilgrims were gathering to make the 130km (80-mile) journey to Karbala for a religious festival, according to Reuters news agency.

Eyewitness Salah Abbas told the AP news agency: "There were many charred bodies on the ground. People were screaming and crying."

While at least 25 people are known to have died in the attack, Reuters news agency said the death toll could be as high as 40.

Police have imposed a partial curfew and closed all entrances to the city, it says.

Body parts

The Shia community is celebrating the Shabaniyah festival, which marks the anniversary of the birth of a key Shia imam. It reaches its peak on Friday.

It is thought the earlier blasts on the eastern outskirts of Karbala were also aimed at pilgrims. At least 30 people were injured.

Footage from the scene showed the twisted wreckage of cars, and a large area strewn with fruit and vegetables.

Eyewitness Ahmed Hassan, whose butcher shop is nearby, told Reuters: "We even saw body parts on top of the building."

There were also twin blasts in the Sunni city of Taji, the site of a military base 20km (12 miles) north of Baghdad.

Three people were killed there - including a policeman, and 15 were injured, according to officials.

There are reports of an attack in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad. According to the AFP news agency, one policeman was killed.

No group has said it had carried out any of Tuesday's attacks.

The chairman of the Qadisiyah provincial council, Jubair al-Jabouri, blamed the Diwaniya attacks on Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaeda.