A blistering string of apparently coordinated bombings and a shooting across Iraq killed at least 40 and wounded dozens Sunday, spreading fear throughout the county in a wave of violence that is raising the prospect of a return to sectarian killing a decade after a US-led invasion.
Violence has spiked sharply in Iraq in recent months, with the death toll rising to levels not seen since 2008. Nearly 2,000 have been killed since the start of April, including more than 170 this month.
The surge in bloodshed accompanies rising sectarian tensions within Iraq and growing concerns that its unrest is being fanned by the Syrian civil war raging next door. Most of Sunday’s car bombs hit Shiite-majority areas and caused most of the casualties. The blasts hit half a dozen cities and towns in the south and center of the country.
There was no claim of responsibility for any of the attacks, but they bore the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which uses car bombs, suicide bombers and coordinated attacks, most aimed at security forces and members of Iraq’s Shiite majority.
The US Embassy condemned the attacks, saying it stands with Iraqis “who seek to live in peace and who reject cowardly acts of terrorism such as this.”
The US withdrew its last combat troops from Iraq in December 2011, though a small number remain as an arm of the embassy to provide training and facilitate arms sales.