Seven bomb explosions killed 26 people and wounded 67 on Monday in the Iraqi capital, police and medics said. The developments come as security forces battled Sunni Muslim militants around the western cities of Falluja and Ramadi.
The bloodiest attack occurred in the mainly Shia Muslim Abu Dsheer district in southern Baghdad, where a car bomb near a crowded market killed seven people and wounded 18.
No group claimed responsibility for the blasts. But Sunni insurgents, some of them linked to Al-Qaeda, are widely blamed for a surge in violence in the past year apparently aimed at undermining the Shia-led government and provoking a return to all-out sectarian strife.
Al-Qaeda militants and their local allies seized control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi on Jan. 1, exploiting resentment among minority Sunnis against the government for policies perceived as unfairly penalizing their once-dominant community.
Five of Monday’s bombs targeted mainly Shia districts of the capital, and two were in mostly Sunni areas. Sporadic fighting again flared around Falluja and Ramadi.
Anti-government tribesmen attacked an army barracks in Saqlawiya, six miles northwest of Fallujah, and destroyed two Humvees before army helicopter gunships forced them to retreat. One of the attackers was killed and two wounded, police said. There was no word on casualties among the army.
Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who faces parliamentary elections on April 30, has ruled out a full-scale army assault on Fallujah, urging tribesmen to drive Al-Qaeda militants from the city, where U.S. troops occupying Iraq fought some of their toughest battles with Sunni insurgents in 2004.
An Iraqi journalist, Firas Mohammed, was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded near a police station in Khaldiya, a town between Fallujah and Ramadi, on Sunday, police said. He had worked for the local television channel in Fallujah.
Ten journalists were killed in Iraq last year, the most anywhere except Syria, according to the New York–based Committee to Protect Journalists.