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Associated Press
An Iraqi man and security force members inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, on Sunday. Bombings across Iraq left at least 51 dead and dozens wounded.

In Iraq, bombing binge slays 51

– A blistering string of apparently coordinated bombings and a shooting across Iraq killed at least 51 and wounded dozens Sunday, spreading fear throughout the country in a wave of violence that is raising the prospect of a return to widespread sectarian killing a decade after a U.S.-led invasion.

Violence has spiked sharply in Iraq in recent months, with the death toll rising to levels not seen since 2008. Nearly 2,000 have been killed since the start of April, including more than 180 this month.

The surge in bloodshed accompanies rising sectarian tensions within Iraq and growing concerns that its unrest is being fanned by the Syrian civil war raging next door.

One of the deadliest attacks came in the evening when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a café packed with young people in the largely Shiite neighborhood of al-Ameen in southeastern Baghdad. The attack killed 11 and wounded 25, according to police.

Most of Sunday’s car bombs hit Shiite-majority areas and caused most of the casualties. The blasts hit half a dozen cities and towns in the south and center of the country.

There was no claim of responsibility for any of the attacks, but they bore the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which uses car bombs, suicide bombers and coordinated attacks, most aimed at security forces and members of Iraq’s Shiite majority.

The U.S. Embassy condemned the attacks, saying it stands with Iraqis “who seek to live in peace and who reject cowardly acts of terrorism such as this.” The U.S. withdrew its last combat troops from Iraq in December 2011, though a small number remain as an arm of the embassy to provide training and facilitate arms sales.

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