BAGHDAD (AP) — Three car bombs exploded at outdoor markets and on a street full of shops near Iraq's capital, the deadliest of a series of attacks across the country that killed at least 29 people Thursday, officials said.
The deadliest attack took place Thursday afternoon in the city of Hillah when three separate car bombing struck two outdoor markets and a line of shops, killing nine people and wounding 21, police said. Authorities said that all the blasts happened in a five-minute period.
Hillah is about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
That night, police said a car bombing killed seven people and wounded 12 in the southern city of Najaf, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad.
In the town of Suwayrah, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Baghdad, a car bomb ripped through a commercial area, killing five civilians and wounding 14, a police officer said.
A suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint in the town of Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital, killing three officers, authorities said. The blast wounded four officers and five civilians.
A roadside bomb struck a patrol of a pro-government, anti-al-Qaida Sunni militia, killing three and wounding seven in Tarmiyah, a Sunni town and former insurgent stronghold about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Militants consider members of the group, known as the Awakening Council, as traitors since they were formed by U.S. forces during the height of Iraq's insurgency.
A bomb also went off in Baghdad's Palestine Street, killing two civilians and wounding eight, police said.
Four medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
A spike in attacks in Iraq has raised fears about a return of the sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007. Violence has been on rise since April when the government launched a bloody crackdown on a Sunni protest camp. More than 5,500 people have been killed since. Thursday's attacks bring the total death toll so far this month to 438, according to an Associated Press count.
Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.