Middle East

Iraq violence: Baghdad car bombings leave 14 dead

People walk past the scene of a car bombing in Hurriya, Baghdad (3 February 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption An explosives-laden car was blown up in a commercial area in the Hurriya district of Baghdad

At least 14 people have been killed in a series of car bombings in and around Baghdad, Iraqi officials have said.

Police said car bombs exploded in the Hurriya and Baladiyat districts of the capital, while two others went off in the nearby town of Mahmoudiya.

Four bodies, all with gunshots to the head and signs of torture, were also found in western Baghdad.

There has been a surge in sectarian violence across Iraq in the past year, reaching levels not seen since 2007.

The United Nations says at least 618 civilians and 115 members of the security forces were killed in attacks last month.

However, its figures do not include casualties resulting from the continuing fighting in Anbar, where Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda have taken control of parts of the cities of Falluja and Ramadi in the past month.

Iraqi government data says more than 1,000 people died in January, which would be the highest monthly toll for almost six years.

Over the weekend, it was reported that a major offensive by the security forces to recapture Falluja - the scene of two major battles between US troops and Sunni militants in 2004 - was imminent. But on Monday, a journalist in the city said it was largely calm.

But soldiers, police and pro-government tribesmen were involved in operations against militants in Ramadi, the AFP news agency reported.

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