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Dozens killed in Baghdad bomb blitz

Rapid-fire bombings and mortar strikes have killed 76 people and wounded more than 200 across Baghdad's myriad neighbourhoods, demonstrating the insurgents' ability to carry out coordinated strikes from one side of the capital to the other.

The attacks - blasts in at least 13 separate neighbourhoods - was clearly designed to hit civilians at restaurants and cafes where many Iraqis were gathered to enjoy the warm evening.

The sophistication and the targets - Shiites - suggested that al Qaida-linked Sunni militants were responsible for the deadliest day in Iraq since May.

The strikes, two days after the bloody siege of a church, were stunning in their scope, indicating a high degree of coordination and complexity from an insurgency that just a few months ago US and Iraqi officials were saying was all but defeated.

"They say the situation is under the control. Where is their control?" said Hussein al Saiedi, a 26-year-old resident of Baghdad's sprawling Sadr City slum, where 21 people were killed when a parked car blew up near a market in Tuesday's deadliest bombing.

"We were just standing on the street when we heard a loud noise, and then saw smoke and pieces of cars, falling from the sky," al Saiedi said. People were fleeing the site in panic, frantically calling the names of their relatives and friends."

The bombings began in the early evening and lasted for hours. The assailants used booby-trapped cars and a motorcycle, roadside bombs and mortars. Though 10 neighborhoods targeted were home to mostly Shiites, a couple of strikes hit Sunni communities as well.

In addition to the 76 dead, 232 people were wounded, according to police and hospital officials.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on al Qaida.

"We do not have any conclusive information at this time as to the responsible parties but this seems to be typical AQI (al Qaida in Iraq) tactics," said Lt Col Eric Bloom, a US military spokesman.

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