Middle East

Iraq car bombings: Attacks hit mainly Shia cities

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Media captionThe targets included markets and the security forces, as Rami Ruhayem reports

A wave of car bombings across central and southern Iraq has killed at least 30 people, police and medics say.

Most of the attacks took place in cities with a high concentration of Shia Muslims - including Kut, Najaf, Mahmoudiya, Nasiriya and Basra.

Iraq has been hit by almost daily attacks, raising fears of a return to the worst levels of sectarian violence.

Last month was the bloodiest in Iraq since June 2008, with 1,045 civilians and security officials killed.

In the mainly Shia city of Basra in the south, two car bombs went off almost at the same time in a market in the city centre, killing five people.

Another car bomb killed at least seven people in the holy city of Najaf. In Kut, two car bombs targeted an industrial area and a gathering of construction workers.

No group has admitted carrying out the bombings, but tensions between the Shia Muslim majority, which leads the government, and minority Sunnis has been growing since last year.

Sunnis have accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of discriminating against them - a claim the government denies.