BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of coordinated evening blasts in Baghdad and other violence killed at least 47 people in Iraq on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a surge of bloodshed roiling the country this year.
Many of those killed were caught up in a string of car bombings that tore through the Iraqi capital early in the evening as residents were out shopping or heading to dinner. Those blasts struck seven different neighborhoods and claimed at least 33 lives.
The killing comes amid a spike in deadly violence in recent months as insurgents try to capitalize on rising sectarian and ethnic tensions. The scale of the bloodshed has risen to levels not seen since 2008, a time when Iraq was pulling back from the brink of civil war.
The evening's deadliest single blast struck hit a row of restaurants in the largely Shiite eastern neighborhood of Talibiyah, killing seven and wounding 28. Another car bomb hit the nearby Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, killing three and wounding eight, according to police.
At around the same time, authorities say back-to-back car bombs blew up near a police station in the western neighborhood of Sadiyah, a mainly Sunni area, killing six and wounding 15.
Another blast hit a central square in the commercial district of Karradah, killing six and wounding 14.
Car bombs also struck shopping streets in the religiously mixed western neighborhood of Shurta, killing five people and wounding 12; in the southeastern Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah, killing four and wounding 11; and in the southern Shiite neighborhood of Abu Dashir, killing two and wounding nine, according to police.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attacks, but coordinated car bombings and attacks on civilians and Iraqi security forces are a favorite tactic of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida. It typically does not lay claim to attacks for several days, if at all.
The evening blasts added to a death toll that had been mounting throughout the day.
Authorities awoke to find four bodies with gunshot wounds to the back laying in the streets in different locations around the Iraqi capital.
Their discovery was particularly chilling because it was reminiscent of the sectarian violence that engulfed the country after the U.S. invasion and peaked in 2006 and 2007, when corpses were commonly found dumped on the streets.
Shiite and Sunni leaders have both called for calm, hoping to avoid a return to those dark days. But the bloodshed continues, with more than 4,000 people killed over the past five months alone. That includes 804 Iraqis killed just last month, according to United Nations figures released earlier this week.
Gunmen shot two other people dead in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood, police said.
In Baghdad's southern suburbs, gunmen stormed the house of a member of a Sunni militia opposed to al-Qaida, killing him and his wife and three children in a southern suburb of the capital, according to police.
The militia, known as the Sahwa, helped U.S. troops fight al-Qaida at the height of the war and since been a target for hard-line insurgents who consider them traitors. Prominent Sahwa leader Wisam al-Hardan managed to escape unharmed an assassination attempt on Monday by two suicide bombers, but six of his bodyguards and a bystander were killed.
Elsewhere, a car bomb blew up early Tuesday at a restaurant in the town of Jbala just south of the capital, killing two people and wounding seven.
In the southern city of Basra, gunmen shot and killed Sunni cleric Abdul-Karim Mustafa as he was walking near the al-Taqwa mosque, said police and other officials in the city.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures, and all of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed reporting.