Iraq: Wave of car bombs across Baghdad kills at least 51

Day of terror in Iraqi capital as attacks on Shi'ite Muslim areas continue to escalate
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A wave of car bombs exploded across Baghdad this morning, killing at least 51 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.

The attacks were all on busy areas, markets and car parks, and predominantly in Shi'ite neighbourhoods.

The deadliest single blast took place in Sadr City, an eastern suburb of the city, where a car blew up at a small vegetable market. Exploding next to a group of workers, it killed at least seven people, including two soldiers, and injured around 16, a police officer said.

That was followed by another four parked car bombs, which went off in quick sequence in the districts of New Baghdad, Habibiya, Sabaa al-Bour and Kazimiyah.

While it was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks, given their victims it is likely to have involved hard-line Sunni militants.

They often target crowded places such as markets, cafes and mosques, seeking to inflict huge numbers of casualties, and have recently stepped up their insurgency in strikes on Shi'ites, who they regard as non-believers.

The impact of the ongoing civil war in neighbouring Syria has been felt over the border in Iraq, bringing renewed focus and aggression to the deep-rooted sectarian divisions straining the fragile coalition of Shi'ite, Kurdish and Sunni factions.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 people when he blew himself up inside a mosque where a Shi'ite funeral was being held, in the town of Mussayab, 40 miles south of Baghdad.

The UN mission in Iraq said about 800 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in August, while more than 4,500 people have reportedly been killed since April.