BAGHDAD: Attacks around Baghdad and north Iraq left 31 people dead on Wednesday, the latest in a nationwide surge of violence.
The unrest came a day after a wave of bombings and shootings in Baghdad killed nearly 60 people, further raising fears that Iraq is slipping back into the all-out sectarian bloodshed that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.
Wednesday’s violence struck towns on the outskirts of Baghdad as well as predominantly Sunni cities in the north of the country, with the deadliest attack occurring south of the capital.
Shortly after midnight, militants bombed adjacent houses belonging to Shiite Muslim brothers in the town of Latifiyah, which lies about 40 kilometres south of Baghdad.
A total of 18 people were killed, including five women and six children, and a dozen others were wounded, according to an army officer and a doctor at a nearby hospital.
Latifiyah is situated at the center of a mixed region, known as the Triangle of Death, so named for the brutal violence that plagued the area during the peak of Iraq’s sectarian war in 2006 and 2007.
Separate attacks in Besmaya and Tarmiyah, also on Baghdad’s outskirts, killed seven others, including five soldiers.
Bombings in two Sunni-majority cities north of the capital killed six people, including five policemen who died in a suicide car bombing against a police station in Mosul, one of Iraq’s most restive cities.
The latest bloodshed came as Baghdad was still reeling from a wave of car bombs targeting Shiite neighbourhoods the previous evening that killed 43 people, while unrest elsewhere left 11 others dead.
Among the attacks was a car bombing in the central commercial district of Karrada where four storefronts were badly damaged, with workers still picking up the pieces from the evening’s violence.
The bombings were the latest in a series of attacks timed to coincide with people visiting cafes and other public areas during the evening.
In the past, coordinated violence has typically been confined to the morning rush-hour, when the capital is normally in gridlock.
Attacks around the country have killed more than 3,900 people since the start of the year.
Iraqi officials have trumpeted wide-ranging operations targeting militants in which hundreds of alleged fighters have been captured and dozens killed.
But a long-running political deadlock combined with frustrations in Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority and concerns about Syria’s civil war spilling over into Iraq have fuelled warnings that violence is unlikely to abate.