More than 60 Iraqis have been killed after bomb attacks in a busy market and outside a town hall in the mostly Shiite Baghdad district of Sadr City. Elsewhere, in the northern city of Kirkuk, at least 20 people were killed when a car bomb exploded.
Police in Baghdad say a mini-bus packed with explosives detonated at the Jamila market in the mostly Shiite enclave of Sadr City. It is the first day of the work week in Iraq and the market was packed with shoppers.
About two hours later, a second bomb exploded near the town hall, causing more casualties.
The attack in the market is the second major car bombing in Sadr City this month. On July first, an explosion killed 66 people, and set off a wave of reprisal killings of Sunnis by Shiite extremists seeking revenge.
Officials say the key to improving security is to rein in the sectarian militias and so-called death squads responsible for the attacks. Early Sunday, the U.S. military says coalition and Iraqi troops conducted two almost simultaneous raids in Baghdad targeting individuals involved in the operation of these death squad cells.
During one of the raids in the Sadr City area, troops freed two Iraqi hostages and detained eight insurgents.
Meanwhile, in the northern ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, officials say the deadly car-bomb was the fourth attack this month in the city. Kirkuk is an oil-rich city where ethnic tensions run high among the city's Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.
The escalating sectarian violence is expected to top the agenda this week when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets President Bush at the White House.