21 May 2013

Car bomb attacks target Iraqi cities

8:00 am on 21 May 2013

More than 70 people have been killed and many others injured in a series of car bomb attacks in central and southern Iraq, according to officials.

Baghdad was worst hit, with eight explosions at bus stations and markets in mainly Shia Muslim districts of the capital.

Attacks also occurred in Samarra, north of the capital, and Basra and Hilla further south.

It is one of the worst days of violence in recent months as Iraq has seen a rise in attacks linked to growing political and sectarian tension, the BBC reports.

Police said 200 people were injured in Monday's violence, with most of the dead in Baghdad.

One of the bloodiest attacks in Baghdad happened in the northern Shia neighbourhood of Shaab, when a car bomb exploded near a crowded market place killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 20.

The bombs in Basra, a mainly Shia Muslim city, killed at least 14 people outside a restaurant and the main bus station.

In a separate incident, gunmen attacked a police patrol in Anbar province overnight, killing seven policemen.

No group has said it carried out Monday's bomb attacks, but tension between the Shia Muslim majority, which leads the government, and minority Sunnis has been growing since last year.

Sunni demonstrators have accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discriminating against them - something the government denies.