Bands of masked gunmen went on a rampage on Sunday in a predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighbourhood, killing at least 42 Sunni Arabs in a gruesome sectarian attack despite a massive security crackdown, witnesses said.
The apparent response to the attacks was swift, with at least 19 people killed and 59 wounded in two powerful car bombs next to a Shiite mosque in a mixed neighbourhood of the predominantly Sunni district of Adhamiyah on the capital's north side, an interior ministry official said.
The Sunni killings began in the western neighbourhood of Jihad when gunmen set up checkpoints and started shooting people based on their ID cards, witnesses said.
"They also went into certain Sunni houses and killed everyone inside," a witness who declined to be named said.
"Outside the mosque I saw the bodies of 10 men, all shot in the head, and they showed severe signs of torture," said Sheikh Abdel Samad al-Obeidi, imam of the Sunni Fakhri Shanshal mosque in the neighbourhood, which was bombed on Friday killing two.
"I blame the Mehdi Army militiamen for this killing - it is all in the open now," he added, referring to the armed group linked to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
He also accused police commandos, who have checkpoints in the area, of being "complicit in the crime for turning a blind eye".
In the runup to Sunday's rampage, Sunni and Shiite holy places were increasingly targeted in ongoing civil strife in Baghdad, with the Shiite Fatima Zahra mosque being bombed on Saturday killing seven and wounding 17.