BAGHDAD – A coordinated wave of seven car bombs tore through bustling commercial streets Saturday night in Shiite areas of Baghdad, part of a relentless wave of violence that killed at least 46 inside and outside the capital.
The car bombs detonated after the iftar meal that breaks the daily fast of the holy month of Ramadan. Many people head out to shop or relax in coffee shops in the cooler evenings after fasting ends.
Bombings and other attacks have now killed more than 250 people since the start of Ramadan on July 10, according to an Associated Press count. The violence is a continuation of a surge of bloodshed that has rocked Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread killings that had the country nearing civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, coordinated bombings against Shiites are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Saturday’s blasts began with an explosion in a busy shopping street that shook buildings in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada. Police say that attack killed nine and wounded 17, and damaged several shops and food stalls.
“The evening is the busiest time of day when a lot of people pour into Karrada after iftar to shop or eat in restaurants,” said clothes vendor Karim Sami, who was working just down the road from the site of the blast.
“We don’t know who to blame for these security breaches, but we are sure of one thing: Our people are bleeding every day,” he said.
Similar car bombs struck the northwestern Tobchi district, killing eight and wounding 29, and Baiyaa in western Baghdad, killing three and wounding 13, authorities said.
Another blast struck Zafaraniyah in southeastern Baghdad, killing six and wounding 15, officials said.
Two separate car bombs exploded in the New Baghdad neighborhood in the southeast, killing five and wounding 17, authorities said.
Yet another car bomb exploded in a Shiite part of the religiously mixed western neighborhood of Shurta, killing four and wounding 12, authorities said.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official said the coordinated nature of the car bombings strongly indicates al-Qaida is responsible.