Baghdad: A series of bombings struck near markets, cafes and the theatre in Baghdad this evening, the deadliest in nationwide attacks in which 22 people and 12 militants were killed.
The bloodshed, which left more than 70 wounded across the country, was the latest in a protracted surge in violence that has forced Iraq to appeal for international help in combating militancy just months before its first general election in four years.
The deadliest attacks struck in Baghdad, where a wave of evening bombings targeted civilians in both Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods of the capital.
From 6:00 pm (2030 IST) onwards, four car bombs and three roadside bombs hit areas ranging from the Shiite slum neighbourhood of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad to the western Sunni suburb of Radhwaniyah.
A car bomb went off near the National Theatre in the centre of the capital, while blasts also struck a market in south Baghdad and a cafe in the north.
Overall, at least 17 people were killed and more than 50 wounded, according to security and medical officials.
The explosions are part of a months-long trend of attacks timed to go off in the evening as Iraqis mass at public meeting places, with restaurants, cafes, and football pitches all hit as violence has surged.
In previous months and years, attacks had typically been timed to coincide with morning rush hour.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but Sunni militants linked to al Qaeda often set off coordinated bombings across Baghdad, ostensibly in a bid to undermine public confidence in the Shiite-led government.
Earlier today, violence in Baghdad and north of the capital left five people dead, while security officials claimed to have killed a dozen militants attempting to carry out attacks.
Two civilians and three insurgents died in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu when a car bomb that attackers were moving to their apparent target went off -- apparently by mistake -- with the militants inside.
Twelve other people were wounded, including two Kurdish security forces guarding the Kurdish-majority neighbourhood in the ethnically-mixed northern town.
Attacks today also targeted Sunni anti-Qaeda tribal militiamen on Baghdad`s southern outskirts and north of the capital in Salaheddin province, killing six people including four militants.