Death toll in Baghdad bombings rises

The death toll from a series of bomb blasts in mainly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad yesterday has reached 64 with 360 wounded, Iraq's health minister said.

The bombings occurred hours after a memorial service for some of the 52 hostages and police killed in a church raid on Sunday, and as the Iraqi government vowed to improve security for Iraq's Christian minority.

The attacks appeared to demonstrate that a weakened but stubborn insurgency has a greater capacity to carry out large-scale strikes than US and Iraqi officials have acknowledged.

Iraq remains in political limbo almost eight months after an inconclusive election, raising fears Sunni Islamist groups such as al-Qa'ida might exploit tension to reignite a sectarian war.

"The death toll from Tuesday's terrorist attacks is 64 martyrs and 360 wounded. Most of the wounded received medical treatment and only 86 stayed at hospitals," Health Minister Saleh al-Hasnawi told state television on Wednesday.

An Interior Ministry source said on Tuesday the total killed was 76 and 271 were wounded, while other sources said the toll was at least 40.

Conflicting death tolls in the aftermath of bomb attacks are common in Iraq.