Iraq car bombings: Attacks hit mainly Shia cities

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by BBC

Twenty people have been killed in a wave of car bombings across central and southern Iraq, police and medics say.

The attacks took place in areas with a high concentration of Shia Muslims – Kut, Mahmoudiya, Nasiriya and Basra.

Iraq has been hit by almost daily attacks, raising fears of a return to the worst levels of sectarian violence.

Last month was the bloodiest in Iraq since June 2008, with 1,045 civilians and security officials killed.

According to the Associated Press news agency, police said the deadliest blasts took place in and near the central city of Kut, where two parked car bombs targeted an industrial area and a gathering of construction workers.

In Basra, twin car bombs in a busy street killed five people, police said. The second bomb is said to detonated as rescuers rushed to the scene of the initial blast.

No group has admitted carrying out the bombings, but tensions between the Shia Muslim majority, which leads the government, and minority Sunnis has been growing since last year.

Sunnis have accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discriminating against them – a claim the government denies.

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