A wave of violence across Iraq on Monday killed 61 people, nearly half of them in a series of attacks in the northern city of Mosul, officials said.
In Mosul at least 29 people were killed when five car bombs targeted the army and police, the officials said, adding a curfew had been imposed in the city.
Thirteen people were killed and 53 wounded when two near-simultaneous car bombs and a suicide attack tore through a wholesale market north of Baghdad, a police officer and a medic said.
The blasts went off in the town of Judaida al-Shat, which lies just west of Baquba, capital of Diyala province and one of the most violent areas in the country.
The attacks targeted fruit and vegetable stall owners who were crowding the market, purchasing goods for the day’s trading.
Another car bomb exploded near a fish market near Taji on the northern edge of Baghdad, killing at least seven people, while a vehicle rigged with explosives also went off in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu, killing three others.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda often stage these common simultaneous and mass-casualty bombings.
The violence comes amid a surge in attacks in Iraq, with unrest in May pushing the month’s death toll to the highest such figure since 2008, raising concerns of a revival of the all-out sectarian war that blighted the country in 2006 and 2007.
There has been a heightened level of attacks since the beginning of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among the Sunni Arab minority that erupted into protests in late December.
Analysts say the failure of the Iraqi authorities to address underlying frustrations among the Sunni community has given fuel and room for militants to increase their activities.
The UN envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has warned that the violence is “ready to explode.”
In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has in recent days met with two of his arch rivals – the speaker of parliament and the president of the autonomous Kurdish region.
While the country’s top politicians have pledged to address persistent political disputes, which analysts say are linked to violence levels, no tangible moves have yet been announced.