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Attacks kill 51 across Iraq as sectarian tensions rise

Iraqis inspect the site of a car bomb in Basra, southern Iraq, on Sunday. A string of at least 10 car bombs went off Sunday.

European Pressphoto Agency

Iraqis inspect the site of a car bomb in Basra, southern Iraq, on Sunday. A string of at least 10 car bombs went off Sunday.

BAGHDAD — A string of seemingly coordinated bombings and a shooting killed at least 51 people and wounded dozens across Iraq on Sunday, part of a wave of violence that is raising the prospect of a return to widespread sectarian killing a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.

The violence has spiked sharply in Iraq in recent months, with nearly 2,000 killed since the start of April, including more than 180 this month.

The surge in bloodshed accompanies rising sectarian tensions within Iraq and growing concerns that its unrest is being fanned by the Syrian civil war raging next door.

Most of Sunday's car bombs hit Shiite-majority areas. The blasts, which caused most of the casualties, hit half a dozen cities and towns in the south and center of the country.

One of the deadliest attacks came in the evening when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a cafe packed with young people in the largely Shiite neighborhood of al-Ameen in southeastern Baghdad. The attack killed 11 and wounded 25, according to police.

There was no claim of responsibility for any of the attacks, but they bore the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which uses car bombs, suicide bombers and coordinated attacks, most aimed at security forces and members of Iraq's Shiite majority.

The shooting broke out near the restive northern city of Mosul. Police officials say gunmen attacked police guarding a remote stretch of an oil pipeline, killing four and wounding five. Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has been the scene of some of the deadliest unrest outside the Baghdad area in recent weeks.

The U.S. Embassy condemned the attacks, saying it stands with Iraqis "who seek to live in peace and who reject cowardly acts of terrorism such as this." The United States withdrew its last combat troops from Iraq in December 2011, though a small number remain as an arm of the embassy to provide training and facilitate arms sales.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. Officials spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity as they weren't allowed to release the information to reporters.

Attacks kill 51 across Iraq as sectarian tensions rise 06/16/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 16, 2013 10:41pm]
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