Iraq: Baghdad blasts kill at least 65 people

Baghdad, July 21: At least 65 people have been killed in thirteen coordinated and serial blasts in Baghdad and nearby regions since last night.  

Nearly 200 people have been injured in the blasts.

The blasts struck in Shiite Muslim areas of the Iraqi capital. Although there was no claim of responsibility, coordinated bombings against Shiites are a favourite tactic of al-Qaeda's Iraq branch.

The explosions were all caused by car bombs timed to go off after the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast when many people are out shopping or relaxing in coffee shops, police said.

Bombings and other attacks have killed more than 230 people since the start of Ramadan on 10th July.

The violence is a continuation of a surge of bloodshed that has been rocking Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Police say that attack killed nine and wounded 17, and left several shops and food stalls damaged.

It was followed by similar car bombs that struck the northwestern Tobchi district, killing eight and wounding 29, and Baiyaa in western Baghdad, killing thee and wounding 13, authorities said.

Another blast struck Zafaraniyah in southeastern Baghdad, killing six and wounding 15, officials said.

Yet another exploded near a bakery in the New Baghdad neighbourhood in the southeast, killing three people and wounding 11, authorities said.

Another car bomb exploded in a Shiite part of the religiously mixed western neighbourhood of Shurta, a mainly Sunni area, killing four and wounded 12, authorities said.

Hours before the Baghdad blasts, gunmen in pickup trucks shot and killed the local leader of a local Sunni militia opposed to al-Qaeda and two of his bodyguards near the city of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital, according to police.

Baqouba is the provincial capital of Diyala. The official, Bassem Mahmoud, headed a Sunni group known as Sahwa, which joined the fight against al-Qaeda during the height of Iraq war.

Police provided details of the attacks, while hospital officials confirmed the death tolls.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to media.

These attacks came only a day after a deadly bombing at a Sunni mosque in Diyala killed 22 people and wounded dozens.

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