Dozens killed in Iraq car bombings
A wave of car bombings has rocked central and northern Iraq killing at least 47 people and extending the deadliest eruption of violence to hit the country in years.
Attackers initially targeted market-goers earlier in the day, then turned their sights on police and army posts after sunset. Security forces scrambled to contain the violence, blocking a key road in central Iraq and imposing a curfew in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Mosul after the blasts went off.
Killing in Iraq has spiked to levels not seen since 2008. The surge in bloodshed, which follows months of protests by the country's Sunni Arab minority against the Shiite-led government, is raising fears that Iraq is heading for another bout of uncontrollable sectarian violence.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks - as has been the case for much of the violence in recent weeks - but co-ordinated car bombings in civilian areas and against security forces are frequently the work of al Qaida's front group in Iraq, known as the Islamic State of Iraq.
The deadliest single attack hit Diyala province when three parked car bombs exploded virtually simultaneously around a wholesale fruit and vegetable market at the height of business in the town of Jidaidat al-Shatt. The town is just outside the provincial capital of Baqouba, about 35 miles north-east of Baghdad.
The blasts killed 15 people and wounded 46. Soon after the explosions, security forces sealed the roads linking Baqouba to Baghdad in an apparent effort to prevent further attacks. Shortly after midday, another car bomb went off near a fish market in the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji, killing seven shoppers and wounding 25, police said.
In the northern city of Tuz Khormato, police said a parked car bomb exploded near a small outdoor market just before the sunset, killing three people and wounding 22. The town is about 130 miles north of Baghdad.
The three car bombs used in the attack near Baqouba were deployed in different locations in and around the market in order to inflict the most damage and casualties, police said. One of the vehicles was a pick-up truck loaded with produce that was parked inside the market.
Later, a rapid-fire wave of car bombings erupted in the volatile northern city of Mosul, killing at least 14 and wounding dozens. Police in Mosul said one suicide bomber rammed his car into a police post, killing seven police and one civilian. In another attack, a bomber detonated his vehicle at a security checkpoint, killing three. A similar attack on another checkpoint killed three police.
A suicide car bomber also struck a security checkpoint near Madain, about 12 miles south-east of Baghdad, killing four soldiers and wounding 10 others, according to police. Four others were killed when a bomb exploded near a cafe in the Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City in Baghdad. Police said the blast injured 12. Another explosion in the al-Ameen neighbourhood in south-eastern Baghdad wounded six.