Car bombs in Baghdad, south Iraq kill at least 34

Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of car bombings across Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods and in the southern city of Basra killed at least 34 people on Monday, Iraqi officials said.

The attacks are the latest in a recent spike of bombings that has hit both Sunni and Shiite civilian targets over the past week. The bloodshed has raised fears of a return to the widespread sectarian violence of 2006-2007 that brought the country to the edge of civil war.

In the Iraqi capital, nine car bombs went off, striking at bus stops, market places and in the streets of Shiite areas during the busy morning hours, killing 24 people and wounding 112, according to police officials.

In the southern city of Basra, two car bombs — one near a restaurant and the other at a bus stop — killed at least 10 people and wounded 27, according to police officials in the oil-rich city.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts but such large-scale bombings bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Hospital officials in Baghdad and Basra confirmed the casualty tolls. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Tensions have been intensifying In Iraq since the country's minority since Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government, including random detentions and neglect.

The protests, which began in December, have largely been peaceful, but the number of attacks rose sharply after a deadly security crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in the country's north on April 23.

Majority Shiites control the levers of power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Wishing to rebuild the nation rather than revert to open warfare, they have largely restrained their militias over the past five years or so as Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaida have targeted them with occasional large-scale attacks.

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Associated Press writer Nabil Al-Jurani in Basra contributed to this report.

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