A wave of bombs exploded in markets in Shi'ite neighborhoods across Baghdad on Monday, killing more than 50 people, Reuters reported police and health officials as saying, in the latest attacks to increase fears Iraq risks sliding back into broader conflict, Alarabiya reported.
While no group claimed Monday's blasts, Sunni Muslim Islamist insurgents and Al-Qaeda' s Iraqi wing have increased attacks since the beginning of the year and often target Shi'ite districts to try to trigger wider confrontation.
At least 11 blasts tore into busy markets and shopping areas in districts across the Iraqi capital, including twin bombs just several hundred meters apart that killed at least 13 people in the Sadr City area, police and hospital officials said.
Bombings on Shi'ite and Sunni mosques, security forces and Sunni tribal leaders over a month-long surge in violence are deepening worries Iraq may tip back into the kind of wide scale Shi'ite against Sunni slaughter that killed thousands in 2006-2007.
Meanwhile, attacks have also targeted Iraqi security forces and killed three people in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk on Monday.
In the disputed province of Kirkuk, separate gun attacks killed an anti-Qaeda militiaman and a private generator operator, while a roadside bomb in the main northern city of Mosul left a police colonel dead, security and medical officials said, AFP reported.
Both areas are home to substantial populations of Sunni Arabs, the minority community that has for months held demonstrations against alleged government targeting and discrimination.
Although violence has decreased sharply in Iraq since the height of insurgency, militants are still capable to carry out lethal attacks nationwide.
Analysts say government policies that have disenfranchised Iraqi Sunnis, coupled with the authorities' refusal to make any major concessions to the protesters, have given militant groups fuel and room to maneuver among the disillusioned community.
The violence comes amid myriad political rows and fears that civil war in neighboring Syria could spill over into Iraq and plunge the country further into crisis.
Iraq is struggling to contain a wave of violence that has killed more than 440 people so far this month -- the second month in a row in which more than 400 people have died in unrest.
The violence has decreased from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, killing at least 200 people each month so far this year.