Twin bomb attacks Sunday on a Baghdad cafe killed dozens of people in one of nine suicide attacks across Iraq, which is suffering its worst violence in five years.
Nationwide a total of 49 people were killed across Iraq, where a surge of violence this year, including sectarian attacks, has raised fears of a relapse into bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007.
The deadliest attack — a roadside bomb followed by a suicide bombing — hit a cafe in the Shiite-majority Al-Amil area of south Baghdad, killing at least 34 people and wounding 50 others, security and medical officials said.
The roadside bomb drew people to the scene outside the cafe, after which a suicide bomber detonated explosives, police said.
Emergency personnel quickly cleaned the site of the explosions, leaving almost no evidence of the attack, while police commandos cordoned off the scene, an AFP journalist said.
Militants have repeatedly targeted cafes in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq this year, along with other areas where crowds of people gather, including markets, mosques and football fields.
Also on Sunday eight suicide bombers struck Rawa, a town located northwest of Baghdad near the Syrian border, killing eight people and wounding 28.
The dead included three members of the local council for the Rawa area of Anbar province, three police, a child and another person, while 28 people were wounded, Doctor Wael Fawzi told AFP.
Police Captain Mohammed Ahmed al-Rawi said two suicide bombers on foot and another driving an explosives-packed vehicle attacked local police headquarters. Another bomber struck an army checkpoint at the town’s entrance.
Meanwhile three bombers on foot and a fourth in a vehicle attacked the local administrative headquarters while officials were meeting inside, local council member Suhaib al-Rawi said.
Militants, including those linked to Al-Qaeda, frequently target Iraqi security forces and other government employees.
In September militants attacked two police stations and a local official’s house in Rawa and in the nearby town of Aana, killing eight people.
Also on Sunday, a roadside bomb and a car bomb exploded near the convoy of a police officer north of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding seven.
And a man who sold meat from a stand south of the Iraqi capital was shot dead, while a roadside bomb in the Ghazaliyah area of west Baghdad wounded six people.
Violence worsened sharply this year after security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23, sparking clashes in which dozens died.
Analysts say the Shiite-led government’s failure to address the grievances of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority — which complains of political exclusion and abuses by security forces — has driven the surge in unrest.
The authorities have made some concessions aimed at placating the protesters and Sunnis in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, but the underlying issues remain unaddressed.
With the latest attacks, more than 480 people have been killed so far this month, and almost 5,200 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
A study released this month by academics based in the United States, Canada and Iraq said nearly half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003.