Bombings in and around Baghdad have killed at least 21 people and wounded more than 100, health and security sources have said, in the latest attacks in a bloody month that have stoked fears Iraq could return to broad sectarian fighting.
Tensions have been high in the country since the last US troops left in December, with ongoing political crises between Iraq’s main Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions further aggravating concerns.
In the deadliest incident yesterday, at least eight people were killed and 30 wounded when a bomb in a parked taxi exploded at the entrance of a Baghdad market in the mainly Shia Muslim district of Washash, police said.
“There were bodies scattered everywhere. Glass and vegetables covered the whole place,” said police officer Ahmed Nouri, who was on patrol nearby when the bomb detonated. “I feel like my clothes are completely covered in blood and the smell of it is in my nose.”
Most of the victims were vendors setting up their produce in the early hours before shoppers arrived, he said. “In some places you cannot tell the blood from the [pulverised] vegetables,” Officer Nouri added.
Violence in Iraq has fallen since the peak of sectarian fighting in 2006-2007 following the 2003 US- led invasion but insurgents remain capable of lethal attacks
Almost 200 people have been killed so far in June across the country in a rise in attacks targeting mainly Shia pilgrims and shrines. The worst incident occurred on June 13th when bombers targeted Shia pilgrims, killing more than 70 people in one of the bloodiest days since US forces withdrew.
Opponents of Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki accuse him of trying to consolidate power at their expense. The Shia leader is fending off attempts by Sunni, Kurdish and some Shia rivals to organise a vote of no confidence against him.