A wave of attacks across Baghdad on Saturday killed 20 people, as rising violence in the restive country threatens to spark an all-out sectarian war.
The spate of bombings - including car bombs that went off at an popular shopping mall and near a juvenile detention center - came amid a weeks-long standoff between the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda-affiliated troops in Anbar province that has killed more than 600 this month alone, Agence France Presse reported.
This recent surge in violence comes just months before Iraq is due to hold its parliamentary elections, AFP added. A slew of international figures, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have urged the Iraqi authorities to pursue peace and political reconciliation with the Sunni community, but Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has refused to engage in dialogue.
Iraq's government troops have, instead of pursuing dialogue, enacted several wide-ranging security operations against the Al Qaeda-affiliated militas in Anbar - which borders with war-torn Syria - but this has done little to diminish the daily bloodshed.
On Saturday evening in Baghdad, seven attacks - including six car bombs - killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 60 others, security and medical officials told AFP.
One of the car bombs went off near the up-scale new Mansur mall, one of the capital's poshest shopping centers, where families and young people often meet to peruse the shops or eat at Western-style restaurants, according to AFP.
In the Mansur mall attack, at least five people were killed and 12 more were wounded.
Another car bomb went off in the capital's Taubchi neighborhood near a juvenile detention center, and fears of an impending prison break spurred the authorities to effectively shut down the area, an AFP journalist reported from the scene.
The blast killed four people and left 13 others wounded, officials said.
Attacks also went off near a bus station in Nahda, a bridge in Utaifiyah, as well as the neighborhoods of Amriyah, Jamiyah and Adel, killing 10 people, AFP reported.
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