BAGHDAD (AP) — A new wave of insurgent attacks in Iraq, mostly car bombs targeting Shiite-majority cities in the center and south of the country, killed at least 48 people on Sunday, officials said.
The attacks continue a surge in bloodshed that has engulfed the country for months. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, which targeted commercial areas and parking lots in seven cities. But systematically organized waves of bombings are used out by al-Qaida's local branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government.
Sometimes insurgents launch multiple attacks for two or more days in a row. On Monday, 27 people were killed in suicide attacks, bombings and shootings.
The deadliest was in the city of Hillah, 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, where a car bomb explosion near an outdoor market and parking lot killed nine civilians and wounded 15 others, a police officer said. A few minutes later, another car bomb went off nearby, killing six civilians and wounding 14, he added.
In the nearby town of Iskandariyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital, another car bomb hit a parking lot, killing four civilians and wounding nine, police said.
Another explosives-rigged parked car bomb went off in an industrial area of the Shiite city of Karbala, killing four and wounding 25, a police officer said. Karbala is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad. In the aftermath, security officials inspected burnt-out cars in front of what appeared to be a smashed row of workshops.
And in Kut, another Shiite-dominated city 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a gathering of construction workers and food stalls, killing two and wounding 14, another provincial police officer said.
Seven more civilians were killed and 31 others were wounded when four separate parked car bombs ripped through the towns of Suwayrah and Hafriyah outside Kut, police said.
In Baghdad's northern Sunni-dominated Azamiyah neighborhood, a car bomb that exploded near the convoy of the head of Baghdad's provincial council killed three and wounded eight, police say. The council head escaped unharmed.
Two other car bombs hit the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah, killing eight civilians and wounding 26, two police officers said. And two more civilians were killed when a bomb hit a police patrol in Baghdad's Sunni western suburb of Abu Ghraib. Nine other people were wounded.
To the northeast of Baghdad, gunmen broke into a farm in the village of Abu Sayda and killed three Sunni farmers, police said.
Eleven medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All spoke anonymously as they weren't authorized to release information.
Iraq is going through its deadliest bout of violence since 2008, raising fears the country is returning to a period of widespread killing such as that which pushed it to the brink of civil war following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. More than 4,000 people have been killed in attacks since the start of April, including 804 just in August, according to United Nations figures.