A series of bomb attacks across Iraq have left at least 73 people dead and over 200 injured, say Iraqi police. Multiple explosions in Baghdad targeted a Shia Muslim procession in the latest escalation of sectarian violence in the country.
Most of the 16 separate explosions that rocked the country targeted Shia pilgrims in five cities, but two hit offices of political parties linked to Iraq's Kurdish minority in the tense north.
The first bomb struck a procession at around 5am local time in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding two others, say the reports compiled by police and health officials in the targeted areas.
In Baghdad itself four more morning bombings targeted a Shia Muslim festival, causing 25 deaths and over 70 casualties. Pilgrims had gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the death of Shia Imam Moussa al-Kadhim.
Twin bomb blasts hit near a restaurant in the southern city of Hilla, killing 21 people and injuring 53, say local police.
Other explosions rocked more towns around Baghdad and in the north of the country, with one of blasts apparently targeting the headquarters of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry has released a statement saying security would be stepped up across Baghdad as more violence is expected.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. But the bombings seem to be the work of Sunni insurgents who often hit Shia targets trying to reignite the intercommunal violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-2007.
Recently attacks against Shia Muslims have intensified.
The latest spate of violence erupted on Sunday when a mortar attack on a religious shrine killed four people in the capital.