Powerful bombs ripped through markets in two Iraqi cities at dusk, killing at least 40 people and wounding 89.
The attacks on Monday night hit Baqouba and Hillah just hours after two key lawmakers said that Sunni Arab insurgent groups had contacted the government about joining a reconciliation effort.
The deadliest attack -- a bicycle bombing in Baqouba, the Sunni insurgent stronghold 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad -- killed at least 25 and wounded 33, according to Dr Ahmed Fouad, director of the morgue at Baqouba General Hospital.
Minutes earlier, a marketplace blast in Hillah, a mainly Shiite city 90 kilometres south of the capital, killed at least 15 people and wounded 56, said police Capt Muthana Khalid.
Both markets were jammed with shoppers buying dinner provisions as temperatures began to cool after sunset.
Police reports from across the country on Monday listed at least 22 other deaths, victims of sectarian murders or bomb and shooting attacks.
Despite the fresh opening from the militant organisations -- which do not include Al-Qaeda in Iraq or other Islamic extremists terror groups -- a key Iraqi commander said Baghdad's forces would not be ready to keep the peace in Anbar province -- the insurgent heartland -- for at least a year.
Brig Gen Jaleel Khalf's said his one-year estimate was what he termed "optimistic under the best of circumstances.