Wave of bombings in Baghdad kills 65
Baghdad - A wave of at least 14 bombings ripped across Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 65 people in the worst violence in Iraq for months.
The apparently co-ordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left the country and in the midst of a major government crisis between Shi'ite and Sunni politicians that has sent sectarian tensions soaring.
The bombings may be linked more to the US withdrawal than the political crisis, but all together, the developments heighten fears of a new round of Shi'ite-Sunni sectarian bloodshed like the one a few years back that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's Sunni insurgents.
Most appeared to hit Shi'ite neighbourhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted.
In all, 11 neighbourhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. There was at least one suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours.
Co-ordinated campaigns such as this generally take weeks to plan and could have been timed to coincide with the end of the American military presence in Iraq, possibly to undercut US claims that they are leaving behind a stable and safe Iraq.
Al-Qaeda has long sought to sow chaos and provoke the type of Shiite militant counterattacks that defined Iraq's insurgency.
The deadliest attack was in the Karrada neighbourhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption.
Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building where he blew himself up, the officers said.