BAGHDAD: The death toll from a wave of attacks in Iraq mostly targeting Shiites in packed markets rose to 57, officials said on Wednesday, marking a second day of brutal violence against the sect.
A series of bombings and shootings on Monday and Tuesday have left more than 100 people killed and upwards of 280 wounded, the latest in spiralling violence that has sparked fears of renewed all-out sectarian war.
It has coupled with a protracted political standoff and months of anti-government protests by the Sunni Arab community, with analysts warning the deadlock is unlikely to be resolved at least until general elections due next year.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda often target Shiites, whom they regard as apostates.
The worst of Tuesday’s violence hit Baghdad, with at least six car bombs hitting markets and commercial areas in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods, leaving 42 people dead and more than 100 wounded.
Vehicles rigged with explosives went off at around 6:00 pm in Shuala, Kamaliyah, Shaab, Hurriyah and Abu Tcheer districts.
Car bombs also went off in the predominantly Shiite southern cities of Basra, Amara and Samawa, killing a total of three people.
Shootings elsewhere in Baghdad killed four more people, while bombings in the cities of Abu Ghraib, Kirkuk, Baquba and Mosul killed eight people and wounded 24.
Tuesday’s violence came a day after a series of attacks north of Baghdad left 49 people dead, among them 23 people killed in a suicide bombing at a funeral in a Shiite religious hall.
The United Nations has said that more than 2,500 people were killed in a surge of violence from April through June.