Scores were killed in more than 20 bombings across Iraq Monday, including a string of car bombings that went off during the morning rush hour in the capital Baghdad.
Most of the blasts — 17 in all, according to Reuters — struck predominantly Shia areas of southern Iraq, Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.
The bombers took advantage of deteriorating security to target busy streets and markets. At least 60 people were killed in the series of bombings.
The New York Times reported that fears of more unexploded bombs have led to a security crackdown in the Iraqi capital, leading to measures such as vehicle checkpoints.
Elsewhere, in Iraq, the violence included:
- two car bombs exploding near a bus station in Kut, southeast of Baghdad, killing six people;
- two car bombs detonating in Basra, in southern Iraq, killing at least three people near a market;
- a car bomb exploding at a market in the city of Smawa, killing six people;
- gunmen attacking in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, leaving at least one person dead.
Interior Ministry officials said that the attacks appeared to be coordinated and were carried out by the "enemies of Iraq."
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.
Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq has frequently used car bombs in coordinated attacks to undermine the country's Shia-led government.
Sunnis, the majority in Iraq, have stepped up protests against the government in the last year, saying it ignored their needs and marginalized them since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in the 2003 US-led invasion.
The increase in violence during the past few months has left hundreds of people dead, bringing the toll for the year to nearly 4,000, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
July alone saw somewhere between 450 and 720 people killed.
The uptick in violence since the start of Ramadan on July 10 has revived fears of a return to the worst levels of sectarian violence seen between 2006 and 2008, following the US invasion.