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Iraq

Several killed, many injured in fresh bombings in Iraq

At least 10 people have been killed in a series of bomb blast in Iraq. The bombings are the latest in a series of attacks that have killed hundred of people in recent weeks.

One source put the death toll from Thursday's bombings in a number of neighborhoods across the capital, Baghdad, and the northern city of Mosul as high as 23, with dozens of others injured.

Thursday's attacks added to fears that the country could be slipping back into the sort of wider sectarian fighting that broke out after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and peaked in 2006 and 2007.

According to United Nations estimates, more than 500 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq this May. April, when more than 700 people were killed, was the deadliest month the country has seen since 2008.

While the level of violence in Iraq had been on the rise since the start of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among members of the country's minority Sunni community, it surged after police raided Sunni protests in the northern town of Hawija last month. Many protesters were killed in the crackdown and sectarian clashes spread to towns across the country.

Security officials blame Sunni Islamists and Iraq's wing of the al-Qaeda terror network for most of the violence.

In recent months, the Shiite-led government has made some concessions aimed at reducing tensions, such as freeing some prisoners, but observers say these have had little effect.

Earlier in the week, the United Nations envoy to the country called on leading Iraqi politicians to hold urgent talks aimed at resolving a series of political disputes that have left the government powerless to take decisive action to end the violence.

"I once again urge all Iraqi leaders to do everything possible to protect Iraqi civilians. It is their responsibility to stop the bloodshed now," Martin Kobler said in a statement released on Tuesday. "It is the politicians' responsibility to act immediately and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse and not let terrorists benefit from their political differences," he said.

Also on Tuesday, the government announced a series of new measures, including "pursuing all kinds of militias" and providing additional support to security forces. It also warned the country's media outlet against inciting sectarian strife through how they report the news. It wasn't immediately clear what, if any impact these measures would have.

pfd/kms (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)