Blasts kill scores on anniversary of Iraq War

Residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack in the AL-Mashtal district in Baghdad today.
Residents gather at the site of a car bomb attack in the AL-Mashtal district in Baghdad today.

BAGHDAD — At least 48 people have been killed in a series of car and suicide bombings mainly in Shia areas in and around Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, officials say.

The co-ordinated attacks targeted markets, restaurants, bus stops and day labourers during the morning rush hour.

Iraq’s deadliest day in six months came on the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Violence has decreased in Iraq since the peak of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007, but bombings are still common.

Sunni Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda have vowed to step up attacks on Shia targets and state officials this year in an attempt to provoke sectarian conflict and weaken the Shia-led government.

In a sign of concern over the security situation, the cabinet announced that it was delaying elections scheduled for 20 April in the provinces of Anbar and Nineveh by up to six months.

Police sources told the BBC that more than 150 people were also injured in today’s violence, which are reported to have included at least 15 car bombings as well as several roadside bombings and shootings.

Most of the attacks took place in predominantly Shia districts of Baghdad over a period of about two hours during the morning rush hour.

The first occurred at around 8 a.m., when a bomb exploded outside a restaurant in the eastern district of Mashtal, killing four people and damaging several cars, according to the Associated Press.

Minutes later, two day labourers were killed by a roadside bomb planted where they gather every day hoping to pick up work in New Baghdad, a neighbouring area just to the south.

In the north-eastern district of Sadr City, five people died when a bomb was detonated beside a police patrol, and three commuters were killed by a device stuck to the underside of a minibus in which they were travelling, AP reported.

Another two people were killed by a blast on a commercial street in the area. (BBC)

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