Thursday, August 15, 2013

Baghdad car bomb attacks kill at least 33

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A series of car bombs in Baghdad killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 100 on Thursday, with one near the "Green Zone" diplomatic complex, fuelling a death toll that has soared since the beginning of the year to levels not seen since 2008.

Militant groups, including al Qaeda, have increased attacks in recent months in an insurgency against Iraq's Shi'ite-led government, raising fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict after U.S. troops withdrew 18 months ago.

Iraqi police sources said one bomb exploded just 200-300 meters (yards) outside Baghdad's international zone, close to Iraq's Foreign Ministry, killing four and wounding 12 people.

The central zone is a highly-fortified area housing Western embassies including the U.S. mission and the nearby Iraqi ministry has been a frequent target of attacks.

"Cowardly terrorists targeted unarmed citizens in seven places in Baghdad," the Interior Ministry said in a statement. It put the death toll far lower, saying only three people were killed and 44 wounded in the violence.

Since the start of the year, attacks using multiple car bombs have become an almost daily occurrence, killing scores of people in Iraq, including during a religious holiday last weekend when bombers targeted families celebrating outside.