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Attacks in Iraq kill 119 in three days

Attacks in Iraq killed 10 people yesterday, the latest in a wave of bloodshed mostly aimed at Shiites that has left 119 dead in the past three days amid fears the country is slipping back into war.

Residents inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Shuala district in Baghdad.
Residents inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the Shuala district in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD // Attacks in Iraq killed 10 people yesterday, the latest in a wave of bloodshed mostly aimed at Shiites that has left 119 dead in the past three days amid fears the country is slipping back into war.

The surge in violence has also wounded more than 300 and comes as the country grapples with a protracted political stand-off and months of anti-government protests, with analysts warning the deadlock is unlikely to be resolved at least until general elections next year.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda often target Shiites, whom they regard as apostates.

In the latest attack, a bomb went off in the Nahrawan area of south-east Baghdad yesterday, killing seven people and wounding at least 14 others, security and medical sources said.

Violence north of Baghdad, meanwhile, left three people dead. Three militants were also killed in separate incidents.

Yesterday's violence came a day after a wave of bombings and shootings throughout the country killed 57, with 49 others having died in unrest on Monday.

According to one member of parliament, the situation was unlikely to get any better as Iraq heads into Ramadan, traditionally a month when insurgents look to step up their attacks.

"Nothing will change," said Hassan Jihad, a Kurdish MP on the Iraqi parliament's security and defence committee.

"This month will not be better because the security forces will carry out the same routine, there will be no change in their activities."

Militants "will continue to show that they are everywhere, that they can reach any place".

The worst of Tuesday's violence struck Baghdad, with at least six car bombs hitting markets and commercial areas in predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods, leaving 42 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Four others were killed in shootings in the capital, while bombs were also set off in the mostly-Shiite southern cities of Basra, Amara and Samawa, as well as the Sunni Arab cities of Abu Ghraib, Kirkuk, Baquba and Mosul.

Tuesday's violence came a day after a series of attacks north of Baghdad left 49 dead, 23 of those were killed in a suicide bombing at a funeral in a Shiite religious hall.

The United Nations has said that more than 2,500 were killed in a surge of violence between April and the start of this month.

Independent figures show the death toll in that time was more than twice that of the first three months of the year.

"This is a very sustained deterioration, which is more concerning than some of the spikes in violence we have seen over recent years," said John Drake, a Britain-based analyst with risk consultancy AKE Group.

Attacks in recent months have targeted a wide cross-section of Iraqi society: government buildings and security forces were hit by car bombs, mosques were struck by suicide attackers, anti-Al Qaeda militiamen were shot dead, and Iraqis watching and playing football were killed by blasts.

Many of those attacks have struck Baghdad but shootings and bombings have also been concentrated in the Sunni Arab north and west of the country.

The surge in violence comes amid a protracted political standoff within Iraq's national unity government.

While political leaders have pledged to resolve the dispute, with the prime minister Nouri Al Maliki meeting his two main rivals last month, no tangible measures have been agreed.

Meanwhile, tensions have continued in disputed territory in north Iraq and months of protests among the Sunni Arab community have continued unabated, albeit in smaller numbers since provincial elections this year.