Iraq Shiites targeted again in 2 bomb attacks in Baghdad; at least 12 killed

Ali Arar holds his one-year-old son, who was wounded in a car bomb attack in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, May 16, 2013. AP

BAGHDAD Two car bombs exploded in sprawling Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital on Thursday morning, killing at least 12 civilians and wounding 30, officials said.

Baghdad police said the first blast struck a bus and taxi stop around rush hour in the eastern Sadr City neighborhood. Nine people were killed, including a 7-year old child, and 16 were wounded, two officers said.

Another car bomb hit a small market at a taxi stop in the eastern suburb of Kamaliya, killing three civilians and wounding 14 others, they said.

Two medical officials in a nearby hospital confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.

The attack followed a wave of bombings on Wednesday that struck in mainly in Shiite neighborhoods, killing 33 people. At least seven of them died in Sadr City when a bomb in a parked car detonated at a bus stop.

The spike in violence comes amid growing tensions between the Shiite-led government and Iraq's Sunni minority over what they consider second-class treatment. A bloody government crackdown on militants last month in a protest camp in the country's north fueled the tension.

People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad
People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, May 16, 2013.
AP

Iraq's embattled Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed sectarian tension for the latest attacks.

"We have to know that today's bloodshed is the result of sectarian hatred and also the result of a stirring up of these sectarian tensions," al-Maliki said at a government-sanctioned conference addressing atrocities committed under dictator Saddam Hussein. Incitement could be coming from inside or outside the country, he added.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Wednesday and Thursday attacks, but car and suicide bombings are a hallmark of al Qaeda's Iraq branch.

The spike in attacks, after a general decrease in violence, has raised fears of a return to the sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007. Shiite militias have so far been largely restrained in their reactions to such bombings.

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