Middle East

Iraq violence: More than 60 people killed in bombings

Aftermath of car bomb blast in al-Zubair, Iraq, on 5 October 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The attack in the southern town of al-Zubair reportedly killed at least 10 people

At least 63 people have been killed in a series of car bomb attacks in Iraq, police and medical sources say.

One of the largest bombs was in the Shia-majority town of Khalis in the eastern province of Diyala, where at least 40 people were killed.

Another attack in the town of al-Zubair, about 15km (9 miles) south-west of the oil town of Basra, is reported to have killed at least 10 people.

A third bomb in Baghdad killed at least 13 people, police said.

At least 25 others were wounded in the blast in the capital's north-eastern neighbourhood of Husseiniya, according to Associated Press.

While Islamic State (IS) militants said they carried out the blast near Basra, no group has so far claimed responsibility for the other attacks.

However IS militants have frequently bombed Shia areas and government targets as part of their campaign to destabilise the Shia-led government in Baghdad.

The militants see Shias as heretics.

The bombing in Basra comes as a surprise, correspondents say, because it is predominantly Shia - which makes it harder for Sunni jihadist groups to carry out attacks in the same way they do in Baghdad and other parts of the country.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The latest violence follows news on Sunday that the heavily-fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad was open to everyone for the for the first time in 12 years

The two other car bombs went off in areas north of Baghdad that are regularly targeted by jihadists, correspondents say.

The blast in a market area of Khalis, around 55km (35 miles) from the capital, took place in a religiously and ethnically divided province that IS partly captured last year. The government said that Diyala was liberated in January.

While the jihadists no longer have fixed positions in the province, correspondents say, they have continued their tactic of planting car bombs and carrying out suicide operations and hit-and-run attacks in the area.

According to UN figures, 717 Iraqis were killed and 1,216 wounded in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in September.