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Bombings kill 21 people around Iraqi capital

– A new wave of bombings rocked Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens as Iraq remains gripped by violence after al-Qaida-linked militants took control of two cities in western Anbar province.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Insurgent groups, mainly al-Qaida’s local branch and other Sunni militants, frequently target civilians in cafes and public areas, as well as Shiites and members of Iraqi security forces in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government and stir sectarian tensions.

The deadliest in Wednesday’s bombings took place in Baghdad’s northern Shula neighborhood, where a parked car bomb exploded in an outdoor market, killing five shoppers and wounding 12, a police officer said.

Another car bomb in a commercial area in the central Karrada area killed four civilians and wounded 14, police said. A car bomb in another part of Karrada killed two civilians and wounded 10, authorities said.

In Baghdad’s southern suburb of Hussainya, a car bomb killed four civilians and wounded 11 in a market, officials said. In the capital’s eastern Palestine Street, a car bomb killed three civilians and wounded 10, authorities said. Another market bombing killed three civilians and wounded eight in the eastern Maamil area, police said.

Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

The army and allied tribesmen have been fighting al-Qaida’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group around Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi, and the nearby city of Fallujah. The militants control the center of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, a major challenge to the government and its forces two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year. Last year, Iraq saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year.

At least 265 people have died in violence across the country so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.

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Follow Sinan Salaheddin on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sinansm

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