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Iraq: bombs kill at least 72

Coordinated attacks target Shiite areas of Iraq.

Iraq bomb shiite baghdad 2012 01 05Enlarge
Iraiqs inspect the scene in the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah where twin car bombs exploded on January 5. (ALI AL-SAADI/Staff/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 72 people have been killed in a wave of bombings targeted at Shiite areas of Iraq. The blasts heightened fears that insurgents are stepping up attacks after the US troop withdrawal was completed last month, The Associated Press reported via CBS News. 

A suicide bomber killed at least 48 people and wounded more than 81 on their way to the holy city of Karpala Thursday, the Washington Post reported. The bomber blew himself up next to Shiite pilgrims.

Hours earlier, explosions hit Shiite areas of Baghdad. Eight people were killed in the first blast when a bomb attached to a motorcycle went off beside a crowded bus stop in the Sadr City neighborhood.

More from GlobalPost: Dozens of Iraqis killed as rush-hour explosions rip through Baghdad

"There was a group of day laborers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars," a police officer at the scene told Reuters.

A second blast a few minutes later killed one more person and police managed to defuse a third device found nearby, Fox News said. Sadr City is the stronghold of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi militia once fought US and Iraqi troops. He is now an ally of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Two hours later, two further bombs went off simultaneously in Kazimiyah, a Shiite neighborhood in the north of Baghdad, killing at least 14 people. Sixty people were hospitalized with injuries, The Guardian reported.

The BBC’s Rafid Jabboori said the attacks occurred during Baghdad's rush hour to maximize casualties and disruption. The Iraq Interior Ministry confirmed the attacks were targeting civilians.

Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail said the timing of the attacks couldn't have been worse. A political conference which was expected to take place later today at President Jalal Talabani's home in Baghdad has been indefinitely postponed.

Fears of an upswing in sectarian violence have emerged after Maliki's government, dominated by Iraq's majority Shiites, issued an arrest warrant for the country's Sunni vice president last month, AP reported.

The main Sunni-backed party, the Iraqiya bloc, began boycotting parliament on Tuesday, claiming they are being sidelined by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-majority government.

More from GlobalPost: Iraq's Sadr bloc calls for new elections

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/120105/baghdad-bombs-kill-26-people