BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of bombings in the Iraqi capital struck a crowded restaurant, a police patrol and several other targets on Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding 29 in the bloodiest day in Baghdad in more than a month, police and hospital medics said.
Violence has fallen in Iraq since a wave of sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007, but insurgents carry out frequent attacks on security forces and civilians in an attempt to undermine the Shiite-led government.
In northwest Baghdad, a parked car exploded outside a crowded restaurant in the Shiite neighborhood of Shula, killing eight people and wounding 13, police officials said.
Naseer Ali, owner of a grocery shop in Shula, said he was about 150 meters (yards) from the restaurant when the blast went off. Ali said he and other witnesses rushed to help the victims until the ambulances arrived.
"I was in my shop when I heard a powerful explosion and everybody rushed to the explosion site," he said. "Part of the restaurant was damaged and the windows of the nearby shops were shattered. We saw several wounded people screaming for help."
Ali said he is worried the level of violence in Baghdad will return to what it was several years ago, in part because of the growing sectarian divide underlying a months-long paralysis of Iraq's national unity government.
"The politicians are busy with their personal ambitions and the insurgents are making use of this," said Ali, standing on the sidewalk, his shirt stained with blood.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, a parked car blew up near the home of Jamal-Din Mohammed, an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, killing a civilian and wounding four people, including two guards protecting Mohammed's house.
Earlier Thursday, explosions hit two adjacent homes of Baghdad policemen in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah, killing two and wounding nine people, among them three children. One of the policemen was killed and one was wounded.
A fifth attack targeted a police patrol in Baghdad, killing a policeman and wounding three officers.
Medics at nearby hospitals confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Although the level of violence has dropped off sharply in recent years, deadly bombings are still common.
On April 19, bombs blew up in 10 Iraqi cities, killing 30 people and wounding more than 110. In Baghdad alone, 12 people were killed at the time, mostly in Shiite neighborhoods.
Some argue that the ongoing political impasse has opened the door to violence. The unity government headed by al-Maliki, a Shiite, has been largely paralyzed since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq late last year.
There is mounting criticism of al-Maliki within the ruling coalition, amid complaints that he is shutting out Iraq's two main minorities — Kurds and Sunni Muslims — in decision-making. However, his opponents appear to fall short of a needed majority in parliament to bring down him down.