Bomb attacks targeting both Shi'ite Muslims and Sunnis killed at least 20 people in Iraq on Tuesday, part of a spiral of violence that raised has the specter of a return to the full-blown civil conflict of 2006-07.
In the ethnically mixed province of Diyala, a car bomb targeted Shi'ites in a marketplace in the village of Anbakiya, killing five people in the third such attack of the past two months, police said.
“A white car parked near a barber's shop inside Anbakiya market exploded. I got shrapnel in my head and my family took me to Baquba hospital,” said 24-year-old college student Ali Kadhim.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but Sunni Islamist groups including al-Qaida, which view Shi'ites as non-believers, have been regaining momentum in Iraq, galvanized by civil war in neighboring Syria.
Another car bomb targeted a Shi'ite tribal leader, who survived while three others were killed, and a blast in Hwaish village, also in Diyala province, claimed three more lives.
Sectarian tensions in Iraq and the wider region have been brought to the boil by the Syrian conflict, which has pitted mainly Sunni rebels against the government of Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is derived from Shi'ite Islam.
A roadside bomb killed five people in a coffee shop in a Sunni area of Latifiya, around 40 km (25 miles) from Baghdad, in a volatile area known as the “triangle of death”, where 16 members of one Shi'ite family were slain last week.
Gunmen killed six people in a house in Yousufiya, south of Baghdad, where a Sunni family were preparing the body of a man for burial, police said.
Some of the monthly tolls of Iraqis killed this year have been the highest since the intercommunal bloodletting that peaked in 2006-07, after a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Some 800 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in August, according to the United Nations.