BAGHDAD — A series of coordinated evening blasts in Baghdad and other violence killed at least 67 people in Iraq on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a monthslong surge of bloodshed that Iraqi security forces are struggling to contain.
Many of those killed were caught up in a string of car bombings that tore through the Iraqi capital early in the evening as residents were out shopping or heading to dinner. Those blasts struck 11 different neighborhoods and claimed more than 50 lives in a span of less than two hours, officials said.
The killing comes amid a spike in deadly violence in recent months as insurgents try to capitalize on rising sectarian and ethnic tensions. The scale of the bloodshed has risen to levels not seen since 2008, a time when Iraq was pulling back from the brink of civil war.
No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but coordinated car bombings and attacks on civilians and Iraqi security forces are a favorite tactic of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida.
Iraqi officials say the lawlessness roiling neighboring Syria, where the civil war has taken on sharp sectarian overtones similar to those that nearly tore Iraq apart, is fueling the upsurge of violence inside Iraq. Al-Qaida's Iraq arm and other Sunni extremist groups are fighting on the side of rebels trying to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad, which is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
"The recent threats of a military operation against Syria have encouraged the insurgents to wage more attacks inside Iraq," said Ali al-Moussawi, the spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.