20 killed in wave of car bombs across Iraq
An Iraqi man smokes a cigarette in front of a burnt vehicle at the site of a car bombing at a market in Baghdad in May. (AFP file photo)
Multiple car bombs exploded in southern Iraq on Sunday morning, killing 20 people as sectarian violence in the country grows.
Seven vehicles rigged with explosives were detonated in five cities south of Baghdad during Sunday morning rush hour, according to AFP, leaving at least 55 people seriously wounded.
The bombs exploded in largely Shiite areas of Iraq, fuelling fears that Iraq may soon be embroiled in an all-out sectarian conflict.
As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Sunni militant groups who are linked to the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda often target Shiite areas.
Car bombs went off in Kut, Aziziyah, Mahmudiyah, Nasiriyah and Basra, officials said, according to AFP.
Seven people were killed and 15 injured when a car bomb went off in Kut, 160km south of Baghdad. The car was parked outside a restaurant in an industrial area, AFP reported.
In nearby Azizyah, the bomb went off in the middle of the town's marketplace and in close to a Shiite mosque. Five were killed and 10 wounded.
Two bombs were detonated in Basra, a southern port city, killing five people including a bomb disposal expert who had been deployed to defuse one of the explosive devices, according to AFP.
Last month was the bloodiest month in Iraq since 2008, with fears being rekindled of vicious sectarian violence spreading across the country.
Sectarian tensions have been on the rise for the last six months and peaked when there were Sunni protests across tehc ountry in December. In Iraq, Sunni Arabs are the minority.
Experts on Iraqi domestic politics say there has been a significant lack of effort by the Shiite authorities to address the growing Sunni discontent, which has in turn given more oness on Sunni militant groups to carry out deadly activities.
The outgoing U.N. envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has warned the violence is "ready to explode", according to AFP