Middle East

Iraq car bomb attacks target security forces and Shias

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Media captionThe BBC's Rami Ruhayem in the capital Baghdad said such bombings have almost become "very much a part of daily life"

At least 32 people have been killed in Iraq as car bomb attacks targeted security forces and Shia pilgrims around the country, police say.

In Taji, a mainly Sunni town north of the capital, Baghdad, four car bombs went off within minutes of each other, killing at least eight people.

In the southern town of Madain, a bomb exploded near a Shia shrine and Iranian pilgrims were among the injured.

There were also attacks in Kut and other Iraqi cities.

Civilians were among those killed and injured in the attacks around the capital, but the aim of the attackers seems to have been to kill as many security personnel as possible, wherever they could reach them, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad.

Although violence has decreased in Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, attacks escalated again after the withdrawal of US troops from the country at the end of last year.

Bus hit

More than 100 people were injured in Sunday's attacks.

Some reports say the car-bomb blasts in Taji were near Shia Muslim homes in the town, 20km (12 miles) north of Baghdad. Others say the blasts targeted police checkpoints.

The first bomb went off in Taji at 07:15 (04:15 GMT), police were quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

In Madain, a car bomb exploded at around 10:30, next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims.

Three Iraqis were killed and seven Iranians are among the injured, officials told AP.

Police and Shia civilians were killed or injured in other attacks in the Baghdad area on Sunday.

A car bomb targeting a police patrol in Kut killed six people and injured 10, police told BBC News.

Bombs also went off in the cities of Mosul and Baquba.

A resident of the Ammil district in Baghdad accused fugitive Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi and pro-Sunni media organisations of inflaming passions against Iraq's Shia majority.

"They are the terrorists," he told Reuters news agency. "They want to terminate the Shia. They want to see all the Shia gone."

Hashemi was recently sentenced to death in absentia after an Iraqi court found him guilty of running death squads.