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Iraq

Wave of Iraq bombings leaves dozens dead

A string of bomb blasts in predominately Shiite areas of southern Iraq have left dozens dead and wounded many more, authorities have said. The attacks are part of a recent surge in sectarian violence.

A wave of explosions tore through mainly Shiite districts south of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 33 people police and medics said.

At least eight people were killed and 15 wounded when three bombs exploded in quick succession near the headquarters of a Shiite political party in the southern port city of Basra.

Police reported additional explosions that left at least six people dead in a Shiite mosque in the town of Mussayab, and nine near a market in Kut city. In Nassiriya, 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Baghdad, at least two people were killed when two separate car bombs went off in a market. Another car bomb killed four in a market in the Shi‘ite shrine city of Kerbala.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's attacks. However, Sunni extremists, including al Qaeda's Iraq branch, have been blamed for the recent spike in violence. Security services have noted Sunni militants appear to have regained strength in recent months,

Iraq has witnessed its worst levels of violence since 2008, with more than 2,700 people killed since the beginning of April, prompting fears that the country is sliding back toward full-scale sectarian fighting.

The violence has yet to reach the levels of 2006-2007, however, when Iraq was on the brink of a civil war and monthly death tolls sometimes exceeded 3,000.

ccp/jm (AP, Reuters)