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Bombings in Baghdad

Street cleaners remove debris on the road at the site of a car bomb attack in Basra, southeast of BaghdadBAGHDAD — Car bombs ripped through busy streets and markets in Iraq today, killing at least 60 people in predominantly Shi’ite areas in some of the deadliest violence since Sunni insurgents stepped up attacks this year.

The 17 blasts, which appeared to be coordinated, were concentrated on towns and cities in Iraq’s mainly Shi’ite south, and districts of the capital where Shi’ites live.

Militant groups including al Qaeda have increased attacks in recent months in an insurgency against the Shi’ite-led government as a civil war in neighbouring Syria heightens sectarian tensions.

The violence has raised fears of a return to full-blown intercommunal conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, majority Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.

In Baghdad’s Shi’ite stronghold of Sadr city, police and witnesses said a minivan drew up to a group of men waiting by the side of the road for day work, and the driver told them to get in before detonating an explosive device in the vehicle.

“The driver asked labourers to get into the van, then he disappeared and minutes later the truck exploded, flinging the labourers’ bodies back,” said Yahya Ali, a worker who was standing nearby.

“Somebody tell me please why poor labourers are targeted? They want only to take food to their families!”

Today’s attacks underscore deteriorating security in Iraq, where nearly 4,000 people have been killed since the start of the year, said violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count. In July, more than 810 people were killed in militant attacks. (Reuters)

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