Bombings kill 37 in Baghdad

In Baghdad , a man walks past the scene of a car bombing. Violence in Iraq has fallen since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007. But this was the third time this month that attacks have claimed more than 20 lives in one day. KHALID MOHAMMED / AP
In Baghdad , a man walks past the scene of a car bombing. Violence in Iraq has fallen since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007. But this was the third time this month that attacks have claimed more than 20 lives in one day. KHALID MOHAMMED / AP

The blasts came within minutes of each other. More than 100 people were injured.

Posted: February 18, 2013

BAGHDAD - Car bombs tore through shopping areas within minutes of each other in mainly Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital on Sunday, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 100.

The attacks come amid rising sectarian discord in Iraq and appear aimed at shaking Iraqis' confidence in the Shiite-led government. The explosions struck at the start of the local work week and primarily targeted outdoor markets.

Violence in Iraq has fallen since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, but insurgents still frequently launch lethal attacks against security forces and civilians. It was the third time this month that attacks have claimed more than 20 lives in a single day.

The attacks began with the detonation of a parked car loaded with explosives in the sprawling Shiite district of Sadr City Sunday morning. Two more parked cars later exploded elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Nima Khadum, a government employee, said the blasts shattered the windows of his Sadr City house. He said the air was heavy with smoke, while burning cars littered the street and the bodies of the dead and wounded lay nearby.

"The scene was a bloody one that brought to my mind the painful memories of the violent past," he said. "I don't see the benefit of security checkpoints that only cause traffic jams and don't do anything to secure Baghdad. The government, with its failing security forces, bears full responsibility for the bloodshed today."

Simultaneous explosions also hit the southeastern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Amin, where the force of the blasts left behind little except the mangled chassis of two cars.

An open-air market in Husseiniya, northeast of the capital, and the Kamaliya area in Baghdad's eastern suburbs were also hit. A car bomb exploded near street vendors and a police car in the central commercial district of Karradah.

Police and hospital officials provided the death toll, and said more than 130 people were wounded. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but similar ones have been orchestrated by Sunni extremists.

As sectarian strife mounts, protesters drawn overwhelmingly from Iraq's Sunni community have staged weekly demonstrations and sit-ins since late December to rally against the government. The protesters have rejected calls for violence and distance themselves from extremist groups such as al-Qaeda.

There are concerns that insurgents could step up attacks ahead of provincial elections April 20. The ballot would be the first countrywide vote since the U.S. troop withdrawal more than a year ago.

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