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July 24, 2012

Death Toll in Iraq Attacks Hits 115

by VOA News

Iraqi officials say at least 115 people have now died after Monday's massive string of attacks across the country.

A car bomb exploded late Monday near a cafe in a Shi'ite neighborhood in the capital, Baghdad, killing at least five people and wounding 24 others.

The wave of coordinated bombings and shootings wounded more than 200 people in 15 cities, in what was the deadliest day of violence in Iraq in more than two years.  The last time the casualty toll reached that high was on May 10, 2010.

​​The worst attack Monday was in Taji, 20 kilometers north of Baghdad, where nearly 40 people were killed.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

The United States condemned the attacks, but said that despite the setback, Iraq is not nearly as violent a place as it was in the past.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Iraqi security forces have been trained and have the capacity to deal with their own security.

The violence comes after jihadist websites posted a message Saturday, purportedly from the leader of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq, saying the group is starting a "new phase."  The audio message from a speaker identified as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says the Islamic State of Iraq is planning to attack court officials, and to free prisoners.

In June, the group claimed responsibility for a wave of car bombings that killed 72 people and wounded nearly 260 others.