By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press
BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of bombings, mainly targeting markets in and near Baghdad, killed 31 people on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a surge of violence that has gripped Iraq.
Violence has been on the rise across the country following a deadly crackdown by government forces on a Sunni protest camp in April but attacks against civilians and security forces have especially spiked since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in early July.
The uptick in the bloodshed has raised fears of a return to the widespread killing that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The deadliest among Tuesday's attacks came before sunset, when a car bomb exploded near a market in Baghdad's southeastern suburbs of Nahrwan, police officials said. That attack killed six people and wounded 17.
Later, a car bomb went off in a busy market in Baghdad's downtown neighborhood of Karradah, killing five people and wounding 18.
At night, a car bomb hit near a cafe in the city's northeastern suburb of Husseiniyah, killing five people and wounding 15. Minutes later, another car bomb exploded in Husseiniyah, killing three people and wounding 10.
Isam Mohammed, the owner of a pharmacy near the site of the bombing in Karradah, said he was talking to a customer when he heard a big explosion.
"I fell to the floor because of the powerful blast. Seconds later, I stood up and went outside to see dead bodies and wounded people asking for help. The scene was shocking," said Mohammed, who was wounded slightly in the head.
He blamed the government and the security forces for the continuing security setback in the country.
"Government officials have only fortified the places where they and their families live," he said. "They forget about the ordinary people who are being killed all the time."
In southeastern Baghdad, a car bomb went off near an outdoor market in the Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah as people were shopping before iftar, the evening meal that beaks the daytime fasting during Ramadan. Three people were killed and 10 were wounded there, officials said.
Also, a bombing in a commercial street in the Dora area in southern Baghdad killed four and wounded 11. Police said another car bomb exploded near a market before sundown in southwestern Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 15.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Popular outdoor places such as cafes and markets have been a favorite target for insurgents.
With Tuesday's deaths, at least 675 people have been killed since the start of Ramadan, according to an Associated Press count, making it the bloodiest Ramadan in Iraq since 2007.