BAGHDAD- Car bombs exploded in several predominantly Shiite Muslim neighbourhoods of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 54 people and injuring dozens, police and medical sources said.
The deadliest single attack took place in Sadr City, where a man parked a white car packed with explosives near a place where day labourers had gathered. The vehicle blew up soon afterwards, killing at least seven people, including two soldiers.
“The driver said he would move it soon, but the car exploded a few minutes later,” said Abu Muhammad a worker at the scene. Footage from the scene showed the remains of a car torn in two surrounded by damaged taxis and bits of metal melted in the heat of the blast. Altogether 14 car bombs exploded across the Iraqi capital in apparently coordinated attacks.
Iraq’s delicate sectarian balance has been strained by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow a leader backed by Iran. Both Sunnis and Shiites have crossed into Syria from Iraq to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
Al Qaeda’s Iraqi and Syrian branches merged earlier this year to form the Islamic State of Iraq which has claimed responsibility for attacks on both sides of the border.