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Iraq

String of car bombs in Iraq leaves dozens dead

A string of car bombings across Iraq has left dozens of people dead. It is the latest wave of violence in the country, which has spiked to levels not seen in five years.

The bombings killed more than 50 people in Iraq Monday, with attacks focusing on markets during the day before shifting to a police base at night.

At least 13 people were killed and around 50 wounded when three car bombs were detonated almost simultaneously near a fruit and vegetable market in the mainly-Shiite town of Jidaidat al-Shatt. The explosions went off at the height of business hours in the town, which lies about 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

Shortly after the attacks, police sealed off the road between Baqouba and Baghdad in an apparent effort to prevent further violence.

In the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji, at least eight more people were killed and 25 wounded in a car bomb explosion near a fish market, police said.

Attacks in the northern cities of Kirkuk, Tuz Khormato, and Tikrit also left at least eight people dead.

In the evening, five car bombs targeting army and police went off in the majority-Sunni city of Mosul, killing at least 24 people, officials said. A curfew has been imposed.

"We have received many corpses," Anwar al-Juburi, a doctor at Mosul General Hospital, told the AFP news agency. "Most of them were members of the security forces."

Mosul and the surrounding province of Nineveh is one of the most unstable parts of Iraq.

No group has claimed responsibility for the violence.

Rising sectarian violence

Iraq has been gripped by sectarian tensions since mass protests started in December in areas populated by the Sunni minority. Shiites have often been targets of hard-line Sunni insurgents. An all-out conflict in 2006-2007 left thousands dead.

According to UN figures, at least 1,045 Iraqi civilians and security personnel were killed in May, the highest monthly death toll since 2008. A further 712 people were killed in April.

The UN envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, warned that the violence is "ready to explode."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with two of his rivals - the Sunni speaker of the parliament and the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region - in recent days in an effort to ease tensions.

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

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