BBC News

Iraq violence: Multiple attacks leave dozens dead

image captionFourteen people died when a bomb was detonated in Baghdad's Sadr City

A series of bombings and shootings across Iraq on Thursday left more than 70 people dead, officials have said.

The violence began in the north and ended near midnight with explosions near busy markets, restaurants and ice cream shops in Shia areas of Baghdad.

No group has said it was behind them, but previous multiple attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, which includes an al-Qaeda offshoot.

The attacks came ahead of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr this weekend.

The authorities are trying to prevent further attacks as crowds gather in places such as parks and mosques to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

'No safe place'

In the deadliest incident on Thursday, at least 16 people were killed and dozens wounded when a car bomb exploded shortly before midnight near an ice cream shop in the main Shia area of Zafraniya.

"I was sitting in the cafe when I felt a huge spark like electricity in my eyes, and a huge explosion," Amjad Saad, a college student, told Reuters news agency.

"After that I woke up in hospital with injuries to my arms and shrapnel in my back."

Another 14 people died when a bomb was detonated near another ice cream shop at a market in the capital's Sadr City district.

"Before yesterday, we thought there were still safe places to sit and have a nice time with friends, but with this explosion we know there is no safe place in Iraq," survivor Hassan Karim told the Associated Press.

"All the best security measures could not stop terrorists from killing people," he added from his hospital bed.

Earlier in the day, a car bomb killed at least seven people in Husseiniya.

Political tensions

In Kirkuk, 250km (150 miles) north of Baghdad, four bombs were planted near the house of a military officer, the city's police commander, Brig Gen Sarhad Qadir, told AP.

The officer was unharmed but his brother was killed, while six other members of his family were hurt. The blasts left one other person dead.

media captionFootage showed firefighters tackling burning vehicles in Kirkuk

In Daquq, a town in Kirkuk province, seven policemen died when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a counter-terrorism department's compound, the AFP news agency reported.

Gunmen in cars also opened fire on an Iraqi army checkpoint near the northern town of Mishada, killing seven soldiers and wounding eight, according to Associated Press.

It also said at least seven people died after a suicide bomb attack in a teashop in Tal Afar, 420km (260 miles) north-west of the capital.

Other attacks were reported in al-Garma, Tuz Khurmatu, Dibis, Fallujah and Baquba.

There has been a marked increase in violence in the country in recent months amid worsening political tensions.

The violence is thought to be linked to Sunni Islamist militant groups trying to undermine the Shia-led government.

More than 300 people died in attacks across Iraq in July - the highest monthly death toll since August 2010, according to government figures.

Although the violence is still below that seen at the height of Iraq's civil war in 2006 and 2007, it has been growing again since US troops withdrew last December.