Baghdad: A series of evening bombings near markets in and around Baghdad and other blasts north of the capital killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens of others today in the latest eruption of bloodshed to rock Iraq.
The attacks were the latest in a wave of violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the beginning of April.
The violence came as tens of thousands of Shiites poured into the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, for the annual festival of Shabaniyah, marking the anniversary of the birth of the ninth-century Shiite leader known as the Hidden Imam.
Tight security measures were in force to try to prevent insurgent attacks on the worshippers.
One of the deadliest attacks came at night when two bombs placed near a market blew up less than a minute apart in Baghdad`s mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, killing 10 people and wounding 30 others.
Police said the second bomb went off among a group of people who had gathered at the scene to help the victims of the first blast.
Earlier, police said that two car bombs exploded within minutes on a commercial street in the mixed neighborhood of Jihad in western Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding 21 others, police said.
Also, four people were killed and nine others were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a line of shops in the Shiite-dominated area of al-Shurta al-Rabeaa.
Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim said that al Qaeda is avoiding direct confrontation with the security forces and instead are choosing civilian targets.
"By attacking soft targets like markets, al Qaeda wants to send a message that they are still active and still capable of striking anywhere in Iraq," he said.
Police said car bomb exploded near a supermarket on a main commercial street in the Shiite Karrada neighborhood, killing five people and wounding 16.
Just after sunset, police said a car bomb went off near an outdoor market in the Shiite suburb of Nahrawan, killing four civilians and wounding 15 others.
Minutes later, a car bomb went off near a market in the Shiite-majority neighborhood of New Baghdad. Police said that three people were killed and 10 others were wounded. Minutes later, a second car bomb hit a bus stop in the same neighborhood, killing two people and wounding eight others.
Also, two people were killed in a car explosion in the Christian-Shiite neighborhood of Garage al-Amana in southeastern Baghdad.