Middle East

Iraq violence: Baghdad bomb blasts kill at least 26

Bomb blast aftermath, southern Baghdad (20 Jan)
The deadliest single attack, on a market in southern Baghdad, killed seven people

At least 26 people have been killed in a series of bomb blasts across the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, police and medics say.

Some 60 people may have also been wounded in the explosions, reports say.

The deadliest single attack, in which seven people died, struck a busy market in the south of the city.

In an extended surge of sectarian violence, 759 people died in December alone. More than 650 have died so far in January, said the AFP news agency.

The violence has not reached this level since 2007, at the peak of sectarian conflict.

No group claimed immediate responsibility for Monday's attacks but previous similar bombings have been widely blamed on Sunni insurgents seeking to undermine the Shia-led government of Nouri Maliki.

However, two of Monday's blasts - which reportedly numbered between five and seven - targeted Sunni districts.

Shia districts in Jadida, Hurriya and Bayaa were among those hit, said AFP.

The bomb attacks come against the background of continuing violence in the western province of Anbar, where al-Qaeda-linked militants control the city of Falluja and parts of Ramadi.

Fighting was again reported around the two cities on Monday.

More than 70 people were killed in bomb blasts in central Iraq, including the capital, on 15 January.

Graph showing annual death tolls since 2006 and monthly deaths since 2008