BAGHDAD (AP) — A string of bombings Sunday across Iraq, many in Shiite-majority cities, killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens, officials said, a grim reminder of the government's failure to stem the uptick in violence that is feeding sectarian tensions in the country.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attacks, but waves of bombings are frequently used by al-Qaida's Iraq branch.
The Sunni militant group and other Sunni extremists often targets Shiite civilians in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government. Al-Qaida's extremist ideology considers Shiites heretics.
The deadliest of Sunday's attacks, many of which struck busy commercial areas, happened in the southern city of Hillah, 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad. Back-to-back car bombings hit an outdoor market there, killing eight people and wounding 22, police said.
Two parked car bombs ripped through a commercial area in the city of Suwayrah, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 14. Two other car bombs exploded simultaneously in the city of Kut, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, killing four and wounded 16, according to police.
In the nearby city of Samawah, 370 kilometers (230 miles) southeast of Baghdad, four people were killed and 13 wounded when two car bombs exploded. Two other car bombs killed three and wounded 13 in the city of Diwaniyah, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital.
Samarra was struck twice Sunday, a day after a car bombing in the Sunni-dominated city left 17 dead. The memory of the 2006 bombing of the city's al-Askari Shiite shrine still haunts many Iraqis because it set off years of retaliatory bloodshed between Sunni and Shiite extremists.
Two people were killed and 15 were wounded in the morning when a car bomb exploded near a group of mourners at a funeral for some of the previous day's dead. A suicide bomber struck a security checkpoint near the shrine in the Sunni-dominated city later in the day, killing four and wounding 10, said Mizhar Fleih, the deputy head of the municipal council there.
In other violence Sunday, police reported five people killed and 34 wounded in the southern city of Basra and the central towns of Mahmoudiyah and Madain.
In the western Baghdad neighborhood of Sadiyah, police said a bomb went off near a row of shops, killing two people and wounding nine others. Three others were killed in a blast near a soccer field in Baghdad's mainly Shiite southeastern suburb of Nahrwan. Yet another bomb exploded in the western Amariyah neighborhood, killing two and wounding 10, police said.
Medical officials confirmed the causalities. The police and hospital officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in Iraq since attacks began accelerating in April following a deadly security crackdown against a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawija.
With today's death toll, at least 267 people were killed so far in October. The latest surge in violence has raised fears that Iraq could be returning to widespread sectarian killings similar to those that brought country to the edge of civil war in 2006 and 2007.
Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.