At least 23 people were killed in Iraq on Monday in a series of car bombs in Shia Muslim areas and militant attacks, medics and police sources said – taking the week’s death toll to nearly 200 as sectarian violence intensifies.
Clashes have increased as the civil war in Syria puts strain on fragile relations between Sunnis and Shias. The tensions are at their highest in Iraq since US troops pulled out more than a year ago.
The latest bout of blood-letting began when security forces raided a Sunni protest camp near Kirkuk last week triggering clashes that quickly spread to other Sunni areas including the western province of Anbar, which borders Syria and Jordan.
The demonstrations had eased in the past month, but this week’s army raid on a protest camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, 170 km north of Baghdad, angered Sunnis and appears to have given insurgents more momentum. Early yesterday, at least nine people were killed and 40 wounded in two car bomb explosions in Amara, 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
The first of the two blasts ripped through a market and the second hit an area where day labourers were gathering to look for work.
Another car bomb was detonated in a market in Diwaniya, 150 km south of Baghdad, killing two people, police said.